Green Wave claim North 5A title

West Point's Brandon Harris runs the football during Friday night's game against Olive Branch. (Photo by Ryan Phillips, SDN)
Staff Writer

Rain began to fall in central Mississippi around 5 p.m. on Friday afternoon and Olive Branch should have known then that the West Point Green Wave had a head start in the Class 5A North State championship game.

By pre-game warmups, mud puddles began to form on the sidelines and the rain got heavier and heavier. It was the exact conditions that Chris Chambless and his team wanted.

Brandon Harris went off to the races on the first offensive play of the game for the Green Wave on an 85-yard touchdown run and West Point never looked back. It all led to a 35-0 blowout that earned a third-straight trip to the state title for the Green Wave.

“Coach told us that we’ve got to play better than we did against Lafayette,” Harris said. “Coach Chambless always tells us that the first one that flinches is going to lose. We didn’t flinch.”

West Point (13-1) threw seven passes in the contest as it grinded out another win on the ground with 54 carries and 443 yards rushing, averaging 8.2 yards per rush. The game was put on ice pretty early because of that established run game.

It took the Green Wave three plays on offense to go up 14-0. Harris broke off the 85-yard score after a defensive stop and Dantariyus Cannon followed with a 59-yard burst of his own on the second play of the next drive for a 14-0 lead after one quarter.

The second quarter was more of a grinder for West Point. Jaylun Eggerson got in from a yard out and Cannon scored his second touchdown with less than 10 seconds remaining in the first half to go on top 28-0 and seal the deal.

The Green Wave had 310 yards rushing in the first half with Harris and Cannon each eclipsing 100 yards.

“We’ve got an offensive line that can roll you off the ball and even when we miss, we’ve got running backs that can make you miss," Chambless said. "It helps to have three or four guys that can do that for you. None of them get jealous. When the play is called, they get out there and know what to do.”

The field became an absolute mess by the start of the second half with puddles engulfing between the 40-yard lines. It became much tougher for West Point to run the football as it did in the first half, but the defense gave Olive Branch no chance to establish any success when it had the ball.

Harris led the way with 18 carries for 233 yards and two touchdowns while Cannon had 11 carries for 126 yards and two scores himself. Cannon also had one of the three passes caught for 14 yards. Eggerson finished with 13 carries for 61 yards as Chambless continues to get rushing yards from up and down the depth chart.

The win over the Conquistadores was the fourth in the last two seasons for the Green Wave. Olive Branch has gone 24-0 against everyone but West Point in those two seasons, which it has lost all four times against now.

Since the Green Wave lost to Starkville earlier in the year, they’ve now won 11-straight games heading into the final game of the season against West Jones. West Point is back in a familiar spot with a 10th state championship within their grasps and an unprecedented third-straight title.

Chambless feels this group has been even more special than those in the past because no one but the Green Wave themselves expected to have a chance to do this.  

“We were locked in all week and focused on playing our brand of football, no matter the conditions,” Chambless said. “Our seniors took great pride on this being the last time they played on this field. This was a great victory for our senior class and I’m so proud of them.”