Wave gets invites for 'road' games

The 2017 West Point High School Green Wave after winning back-to-back state titles (Photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN)
Staff Writer

A top 25 national ranking, two straight state championships and three graduates playing key roles for SEC schools not to mention several others in the JUCO ranks will get a team lots of attention.
But the hard part is deciding what, if anything, to do with that attention.

That's the dilemma for West Point High football coach Chris Chambless.

Starting with his spring scrimmage next month, his Green Wave has arguably the toughest schedule into November as anyone in the state. But he has an open date and powerhouses from Washington D.C. to Orlando, Florida, have come calling, wanting the Green Wave to play on their turf and possibly in front of national audiences via ESPN.

In fact, a visitor joked with Chambless that ESPN had the Wave's schedule ranked third-toughest in the country and all he was lacking to be Number 1 was to add Alabama.

"It's flattering to get these kinds of calls," said Chambless, whose team finished 15-0 and was hardly challenged enroute to a second straight Class 5A title. "It's a compliment to our kids who have worked so hard and continue to work hard.

"But very rarely does anyone want to pay expenses and it cost to take 110 people 16 hours away. It's good when you can do it, but it's not everyday," the veteran coach continued, recalling a trip to Daytona a few years ago where the Wave came out winners.

Taking the team would cost as much as $50,000. One group has offered to pay $20,000 in travel, but that's not enough.

"It's a lot of money to have to raise or come up with.. And it's a lot of football, a lot of tough games already," Chambless said.

Just how tough is the schedule?

The spring jamboree pits the Wave, who finished last year ranked in the nation's top 25 prep teams, against perennial 6A powers South Panola and Meridian. That'll gauge where West Point is heading into the summer drills and fall schedule.

Then things get even tougher.

The Wave open Aug. 10 with 6A power Tupelo in a showcase game at MSU's Davis Wade Stadium. They follow that up with 6A Columbus at Columbus before hosting Louisville, the team Chambless is picking to win the 4A title this year and a group that gave West Point one of its toughest challenges last year.

Then, it's at 6A Starkville, another perennial power before hosting last year's 4A champ and always powerful Noxubee County. Then it's into the 5A district schedule in arguably one of the toughest district's in the state with Saltillo, Grenada, Lafayette and Olive Branch all on the list.

But the Wave has Sept. 7, the Friday after Labor Day open. At least one of the out-of-state invites would fit into that window.

While a trip sounds inviting, player safety always is the overriding factor.

"You've got to take care of the kids. We like that open date because it allows a little break, a chance to take care of some of those early season dings and gets us ready to get into the heart of the schedule," Chambless concluded.