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By JOEL COLEMAN
One week ago, the Leake Academy Rebels found themselves in the midst of quite a battle.
Late in the fourth quarter, tied 28-28 against Kirk Academy, Leake was able to push across two scores to pull out a 42-28 victory.
Now, with the Rebels set to host Starkville Academy Friday night at 7 p.m. in Madden, Leake simply hopes last week's late-game heroics can carry over.
Such an occurrence would fit right into the plans of Leake and head coach Brian Pickens to get to a championship level of football despite youthfulness.
"Well, we're going to be very young, we know that," Pickens told preseason magazine Mississippi Gridiron. "With these young guys, they want to carry on tradition. They challenge themselves to do it better than the team before you. When you've been at a place long enough, that's the motto â€“ to take it further."
So far, so good for Pickens and the Rebels.
Though Leake took a 42-6 loss in the season opener to Simpson Academy, the Rebels bounced back to defeat Immanuel 35-8 before upending Kirk.
The win seven days ago against the Raiders displayed how potent the Rebels can be, particularly behind the legs of senior quarterback Wesley Webb.
Webb, a former wide receiver, ran for four touchdowns against Kirk, confirming Pickens' preseason trust.
"We had to bring him in some (at quarterback) last year so he's had some experience," said Pickens. "He's capable of being a good player and the experience is valuable to him."
It shouldn't come as a surprise that Webb is able to put up big numbers.
Last season, in 14 total games, Leake Academy eclipsed the 30-point mark in all but four contests.
With Webb at the helm this year, the Raiders are again packing a mighty offensive punch.
While it remains to be seen if Leake can put up the points to top Starkville Academy, Pickens believes his team has put in the work to be consistently competitive.
"Preparing yourself," said Pickens. "That's the biggest thing we talk about, working hard and going through the process of being a winner. Good things happen when you do that."