Area preview: Chargers host homecoming, look for continued effort

Ben Ashley

Staff Writer

Coach Ben Ashley hasn’t been worried too much about Choctaw County’s depth and its talent this season.

What has worried Ashley is the effort his team had against Winona that led to a 33-7 loss in the second game of the season. After a 64-14 win against Choctaw Central rectified that a bit last week, he feels his team is back on track.

“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.”

The Chargers have played many players in the first three games of the season. A total of 12 players have rushed the football to this point led by freshman Dicenzo Miller Jr., who has 21 carries for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Miller, however, isn’t a primary back this season and the Chargers will rely more heavily on Rekeim Ashford (13 carries, 226 yards, three touchdowns), Laterrion Mcbride (eight carries, 88 yards) and others moving forward.

That means that Ashley expects to dial things back a bit on how many players he rotates in games. He’s moving to a tighter rotation on both offense and defense and is hoping that allows the team to become a better nucleus down the road.

Caledonia is next up for Choctaw County Friday nght in Ackerman as the Confederates enter with a new head coach in Michael Kelly and a 1-1 record. They defeated West Lowndes 40-12 in the opening game of the year and followed that up with a loss to Aberdeen 44-22 last week. Now they have their first game on the road this season against a Class 3A North contender.

It’s a game that Ashley hopes his players just keep improving.

“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.”

Vardaman at French Camp

It’s that time of year that French Camp seems to turn things up a notch – Class A, Region 3 play.

Each of the last three seasons, the Panthers have started the year with two losses in the first three games and finished with at least five wins in eight district games. Last season, French Camp lost games to Starkville Academy and Eupora as it did this year, only to go 7-1 in Region 3 and finish second in the division behind eventual North State champion Nanih Waiya.

It’s a division that coach Nathan Wright has done well in over his career with the Panthers and he’s looking to make sure it continues tonight as they host Vardaman. Like French Camp, Vardaman has started the year 1-2 having lost to South Pontotoc and Bruce and the Rams defeated Coldwater last week.

Vardaman has shown the ability to run the football and has four players over 100 yards for the year already. Seniors Patrick Pratt and Tyas Armstrong lead the way with 29 and 26 carries respectively. Pratt has rushed for 161 yards and Armstrong 122 and he’s added three touchdowns.

It’s a game that the Panthers need to perform well in to get some confidence moving forward. They have taken a beating offensively in the last two games and they’re averaging just 193 yards of total offense for the season.

West Tallahatchie at Eupora

At long last, Eupora is finally back home for the first time this season and the Eagles take a 2-1 start from their tough road stretch at Water Valley, Newton and French Camp.

Eupora did a great job bouncing back the last two weeks following its 34-8 defeat to Water Valley. A big reason for that is the emergence of senior quarterback Edwin Herard, who was the OCH Athlete of the Week last week after scoring seven total touchdowns.

Herard is a difference maker on the offensive side and defensive side of the football but has yet to play his linebacker spot this season. It remains to be seen whether or not he will be back on that side of the ball this year, but he’s been a good part of things at quarterback of late.

West Tallahatchie comes in 0-3 with losses to Shaw, McAdams and Coahoma AHS. Needless to say, this game is one that the Eagles should be able to win. It’s definitely a game that they want to come away from healthy as they’ve got a stretch of Choctaw County, Charleston and East Webster on the way.