Monday morning quarterback: Okolona 35, East Webster 26


Joel Coleman

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JOEL COLEMAN
Staff Writer

Friday night, as I was piecing together my report of East Webster’s football game against Okolona, I had to do something that felt pretty odd.

I inserted the record of the Wolverines. I had to type 0-2.

I went back and did a little research. I was able to go all the way back to the 2003 season. If my digging was correct, this year is the first time in at least 15 seasons that East Webster has lost its first two games of a season. The streak could extend back even further, I just wasn’t able to find scores from 2002 and before.

So it’s safe to say, it’s an oddity for the Wolverines to head into the third week of the season winless. It’s odd for me. It’s certainly got to be odd for East Webster and all the good folks in Cumberland.

That’s the bad news. So what’s the good news for East Webster? The Wolverines are showing no signs of quit despite their early bumps in the road this season.

“You can tell (they’re all still focused),” East Wester head coach Ron Price said after Friday’s 35-26 loss to Okolona. “When I talked to them after the game, I still had their attention. I still had their focus. You could still see the pain in some of their eyes. You can tell (they won’t give up) in the way that they respond to coaching and the way that they want to be successful.”

Disappointment was indeed evident on the faces of many East Webster players Friday night. After getting blown out by Choctaw County two weeks ago, the Wolverines looked primed for a big bounce-back win on Friday. East Webster held a 20-13 lead in the third quarter before an Okolona kickoff return for a touchdown began a run of 22 unanswered points for the Chieftains. East Webster couldn’t recover.

The Wolverines were frustrated. Yet, when they broke their post-game huddle, it seemed apparent to me they might be more determined than ever.

I spoke to junior quarterback Gray McCarter before he headed to the locker room. He’s still growing as a starting signal caller himself. He showed his development at points on Friday as he threw a couple of touchdown passes. McCarter, like the young East Webster team as a whole, knows he still has some kinks to iron out, however he’s confident the Wolverines are going to find answers and reap the benefits of hard work in the weeks to come.

“We have heart,” McCarter said. “We play with all we have every game. I know we’re going to get there.”

It’s not just talk for East Webster. It hasn’t seen the results on the field yet, but it's putting in the work behind the scenes.

Just two days after Choctaw County topped the Wolverines in the season’s first week, East Webster was eagerly back after it.

“Every kid was here for film (on the Sunday after the Choctaw County game),” Price said. “They are hungry to win. They are wanting to get better. As a coach, I want them to feel the feeling of what all this work has been for and have that success on Friday night.”

Truth be told, there have probably been more talented East Webster teams through the years. There have been older, more experienced groups. One thing this unit has in common with many of the Wolverine teams I’ve covered in the past though is that they seem to carry that same East Webster never-give-in spirit with them that many teams before them have had.

Now that doesn’t mean the Wolverines are destined to win every game the rest of the way. Quite the contrary in fact. There are likely still challenges ahead.

What it does mean is that if this sportswriter was a betting man, I’d put quite a bit on East Webster to keep improving and be a tough opponent for someone every Friday.

“I told our kids, why are we 0-2, I don’t know, but good things are going to come because they are a great group of kids,” Price said. “They listen to what we ask. They give great effort. Hopefully, eventually, the ball will bounce our way and success will come to them.”

Joel Coleman is a sports writer for The Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are Coleman's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SDN or its staff.

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