Monday Morning Quarterback: West Point 55, Columbus 6; Starkville 30, Noxubee County 6

Robbie Faulk

Staff Writer

After over eight months of all of us sitting around twiddling our thumbs to watch high school football again, we all were rewarded handsomely over the weekend.

For myself, the weekend was about absorbing all of the football my heart desired before college kicks off in a couple of weeks and the National Football League follows, so Thursday and Friday night were reserved for watching two of the more powerful football programs in the state.

Those two programs are just a county apart as Starkville and West Point each started off with blowout wins and are on a collision course for their own match up in a week. So let’s get to the recap, shall we?

My first stop of the weekend was in Columbus as West Point jumped up two classifications to play the Class 6A Falcons on their home turf. I will preface by saying Columbus is in the middle of a major rebuild and they certainly struggled on both sides of the football on Thursday. However, West Point is not to be discounted for what would take place over four quarters.

I’ve been interested to see the Green Wave in action this year. I’ve grown up watching West Point over the Chris Chambless era and it’s about as stable of a program as there is in the state of Mississippi. I know that there were some great teams at the school prior to his arrival, but I don’t think there have been many programs anywhere in Mississippi that continues to tick on every year like Chambless’ crew.

Marcus Murphy was the backbone of the last two Class 4A State championships and he spearheaded a 29-game winning streak that began just after they lost to Starkville in 2016. Since that time, the Green Wave have been untouchable, but losing players like Murphy, Chris Calvert, Terrance Cherry, Jason Brownlee and others made many wonder how they would bounce back this season.

West Point handled Class 3A State championship contender North Panola well in the Davis Wade Stadium jamboree the week before and would continue to handle business on Thursday night against Columbus. It was marveling to watch as the Greenies gave the football to four and five different players in the backfield and they all ate up chunks of yards. Four players rushed for over 75 yards and the routed the Falcons 55-6.

Most impressive is that three of the four are juniors and it appears that the Green Wave has no plans of running out of talent in the backfield any time soon. Same goes for the defensive side of the football which crushed the Falcons in every facet throughout the game.

The next four weeks will easily be the most challenging of the schedule for West Point with a brutal stretch of Louisville, Starkville, Noxubee County and Lafayette. If they make it through that grouping healthy and their heads above water, they’re in for yet another big run this season.

Right up the road in Starkville is another program poised for big things. Unlike the Green Wave, however, everyone knew what was coming back this season for the Yellow Jackets. They had most of the defensive front seven in tact from a year ago, a more talented wide receiving corp as former quarterback Malik Brown moved over to help that unit and Atavius Jones adds his big body to the mix and new starting quarterback Luke Altmyer.
A lightning and rain delay that carried on for an hour before the game did nothing to deter SHS from taking care of business. It dominated the game and cruised to a 30-6 victory over Noxubee County to open the season.

The Jackets did the same thing last year against the Tigers as they rolled to a 43-3 victory, but this one felt a little different. Last year’s defense sputtered early before turning it on, this one looked like a unit locked and loaded.

My biggest takeaway from the game is that this front seven might be the best that Starkville has had, at least since I’ve been covering them. The defensive line is flat out nasty as Jalil Clemons, Ryan Johnson and Jaylan Ware caused problems the whole night. Ty Johnson had a big night in the middle at linebacker as did Zach Edwards and sophomore Keshawn Lawrence made his much-anticipated debut.

Add in a secondary that flies to the football and makes big plays and I believe we’re talking about the best defense in the state.

On the offensive side of the football, I wasn’t surprised to see Luke Altmyer have a good start. He is incredibly poised for his age, makes decisive throws and hardly ever endangers his receivers. There were a couple of throws that he made that were sterling for a sophomore and I’m on the record believing he will be a special player before he leaves Starkville.

It’s just one weekend of football and much can happen over the next three months, but these two powers have a different kind of mindset. Both teams are built for special seasons. What they do from here will be determined on their own choosing, but I believe they’ll both strive to get better every day and that’s the championship mindset that teams need to win it all.

First order of business is to get all of us to Yellow Jacket Stadium in two weeks to see that monster defensive clash. I know the teams have a game this week to worry about, but I can’t wait.

Robbie Faulk is the high school writer for The Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are Faulk's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SDN or its staff.