Chargers give Warriors a jolt

Choctaw County defensive players Tabias Merritt (19), Tyler Holman (30) and Dre Meaders (52) pause between plays during Thursday night's game against Choctaw Central.

Staff Writer

Choctaw County head coach Ben Ashley has a goal for his football team each week. It’s just to get a little bit better than the last one.

On the heels of last Friday’s 33-7 loss at Winona, it appears Ashley has gotten his wish for improvement out of his Chargers.

Choctaw County manhandled Choctaw Central 64-14 Thursday night in Ackerman. The Chargers (2-1) dominated the Warriors (0-3) on both sides of the football and gave Ashley much to like.

“I was pleased,” Ashley said. “We’ve been harping on our kids about effort, effort, effort. You go back and watch last week’s film and there were times that we gave very little effort. (Against Choctaw Central), we gave more effort. I was proud of that. We got to play a lot of kids. I was tickled with the way our junior varsity guys got out there and got after it. We’ve just got to keep getting better every week.”

Choctaw County put on a show offensively. The Chargers sprinted out to a 27-0 lead in the first quarter. Choctaw County ran 11 total offensive plays in the opening period and eight of those resulted in either a first down or a touchdown.

It was Rakeim Ashford doing most of the damage. The senior athlete found the end zone three times in the first quarter – first on a 50-yard touchdown run, then later in the period with a pair of 18-yard scoring receptions thrown by quarterback Tylan Carter.

For Ashford, he seemed to benefit from a productive week of practice. Ashley said his coaching staff had developed a strategy to be sure Ashford could have as big of an impact as possible.

“We kind of divided up the offense and defense in practice,” Ashley said. “We tried to take reps away from some kids (so they weren’t playing both ways as much). Rakeim is our best safety, but right now we’ve got to get better on offense. We felt like this week, he needed every offensive rep he could get.”

As Ashford helped carry the load offensively for Choctaw County, Andrew Johnson was one of many standouts defensively for the Chargers. Johnson had a pair of interceptions in the game.

Johnson and the Choctaw County defense smothered the Warriors all night long. It was midway through the third quarter before Choctaw Central was able to earn a first down.

That allowed the Chargers to pull away. In addition to Ashford’s three touchdowns, Choctaw County also got a 42-yard scoring reception from Justin Jenkins. Preston Payne caught a 46-yard touchdown pass. Carter had a pair of touchdown runs – a 13-yarder and a 30-yarder. Dicenzo Miller and Zay White each found the end zone on a 1-yard run and 5-yard run respectively. Trace Beard capped Choctaw County’s scoring with a 30-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

By then, it was completely apparent the Chargers had taken the strides forward that Ashley desired. Now, he just wants to see the same kind of development over the next week as Choctaw County gets ready to host Caledonia a week from today.

“I know it sounds cliche, but the only goal we really ever set around here is just to get a little better every week,” Ashley said. “If you do that over the course of an 11-game season, you get to the end of it and look up and all of a sudden, you’ve got a decent little football team. That’s kind of our goal. We’ve got to be better next week. We play a better opponent. We play a 4A football team that is vastly improved over last year. It’ll be homecoming, so there’ll be lots of distractions, but we’ve got to find a way to dig deep.”