The West Oktibbeha Timberwolves were discouraged at first when they lost in the final four of the Mississippi State 7-on-7 camp this week.
That was until MSU head football coach Dan Mullen and members of his staff walked up to the Timberwolves and let them know how impressed they were with their play.
"Every coach from Mississippi State's team came over to congratulate us after we got put out," West Oktibbeha coach Adam Lowrey said. "(MSU offensive line coach John) Hevesy told my brother he saw that West Oktibbeha was still in it with 11 boys and couldn't believe it. Dan Mullen walked past us twice and none of my boys would look up because they were sad they lost, but he told us we had nothing to be sad about and had no reason to hang our heads.
"There were two referees and one of them who hadn't said anything the whole day came over there, took his hat and glasses off and told us how proud he was."
The competition consisted of high school teams from Classes A to 3A. There were 11 games played in each of the four brackets and the Timberwolves went undefeated in their bracket with wins against West Bolivar, Pillow Academy, Southeast Lauderdale, Bruce, and Lamar School of Meridian along the way.
West Oktibbeha quarterback Von Smith was happy to be one of four teams left standing out of 32 that started, but it was the word he got from Mullen that makes him eager to get back to work soon.
"He came over, told us we did a good job and keep our heads up," Smith said. "It always makes you want to play harder when Division I coaches tell you that you're doing a good job. It makes you want to bust your tail out there.
"Even though we lost (in the finals), we had 11 people against big teams, played good games and kept the Lord first."
Mississippi State offensive coordinator Les Koenning said the Timberwolves had a ready to be proud of what they accomplished.
"They had a small number of kids, but the coaches took them a long way," Koenning said. "It was impressive to see them show up with just enough kids to play, had no subs and were still able to do their job."
West Oktibbeha was one of few Class A teams to participate and Lowrey was pleased about his squad making a good showing.
"There were some good teams that didn't even make as far as we made it so I don't mind bragging," Lowrey said. "The Lord really blessed us because that's what we credited ourselves with."
The Timberwolves plan to be involved with another camp next week in Scooba on the campus of East Mississippi Community College. There West Oktibbeha will mix it up with even bigger schools such as Starkville, West Point, Meridian and Columbus.