By Ruthie Robison The Webster Progress-Times
The West Oktibbeha Timberwolves football team completed the best season in their school’s history last Friday night in Pelahatchie.
Although the Timberwolves were defeated by the Chiefs last week 54-26, West Oktibbeha finished their schedule with an 8-3 overall record and were 6-2 in district play. However, the Timberwolves will not be seen taking the field this week for the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A south half playoffs. Instead, West Oktibbeha will have to say goodbye to their dream season.
The Timberwolves received the news last Tuesday morning that the Oktibbeha County School district had lost accreditation.
The MHSAA handbook states that, “if a school loses certification by the accrediting body of the State Department of Education, it may not participate in any post season play but can participate in regular season games and tournaments.”
The Mississippi Department of Education extended the ban on Oktibbeha County sports limiting county teams to play only in district matches.
Led by head coach Adam Lowrey and a group of inspiring seniors, the Timberwolves were determined that this was their season to win big.
Lowrey had coached this year’s senior players since they were in the eighth grade and helped pave the way for the Timberwolves to go from a 1-9 season to a school best of 8-3 this year.
“When I first came to West Oktibbeha in 2008, the players who are seniors now were eighth graders,” said Lowrey before the start of the season. “I had to start them that year so we could play and not have to forfeit the season.”
The Wolf Pack had drastic improvements since then making strides each year to improve their record.
Lowrey tried to appeal the ban on post season play. Last Thursday morning the MHSAA Executive Board reviewed Oktibbeha County School District’s case in a special meeting. However, the decision was made for the ban to stay in place.
On Sept. 28, Governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency. The state took over Oktibbeha County schools removing Superintendent James Covingtion, and replaced him with Jayne Sargent as county conservator.
Although not every school taken over by the state loses accreditation, it usually does happen.
Oktibbeha County schools’ loss of accreditation was due to low test scores and declining graduation rates.
There is a possibility the ban could last up to three years.
Earlier this season Lowrey stated, “I believe we have the potential to be very good. They have to finish what they start, and I believe this season they will.”
The 2012 Timberwolves did follow through this season as their coach predicted collecting a total of 444 points this year averaging 40 points a game.
This season the Wolf Pack crushed their opponents with a lethal ground attack led by senior running back and linebacker Tiberias Lampkin and senior quarterback and defensive back Von Smith.
In years before, West Oktibbeha relied on their passing game. This season the Timberwolves showed Class 1A, Region 3, District 4 that they could run the ball just as well. Lampkin led West Oktibbeha’s rushing attack this season with 195 carries for 1982 yards with 32 touchdown. Lampkin averaged 10.16 yards a carry. In addition, he had four receptions for 76 yards. On the defensive side of the ball, Lampkin had 102 stops, four sacks and one fumble recovery. Lampkin scored a total of 226 points for the Wolf Pack this season.
Smith completed 85 passes this season for 1490 yards with 21 passing touchdowns. Smith had 52 carries for 581 yards with five rushing touchdowns. Smith averaged 11.17 yards per carry. On the defensive side of the ball, he had 23 stops, three interceptions returned for a gain of 62 yards. Smith entered the end zone for a total of 38 points this season and passed for a total of 147 points for West Oktibbeha.
Senior wide receiver and linebacker Kelsey Jefferson completed one pass for 30 yards with one touchdown. Jefferson had seven carries for 46 yards and had 23 receptions for 349 yards with six touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, he had 42 stops and one interception. Jefferson scored 36 points for his team this season.
Senior running back and linebacker Jonathan Love had 26 carries for 199 yards with two touchdowns. Love had eight receptions for 111 yards with one touchdown. On the defensive side of the ball, he had 78 stops, six sacks and one blocked field goal. Love scored 18 points this season.
Senior offensive lineman and defensive end Michael Graise had 57 stops, four sacks, one interception and a fumble recovery this season.
Senior offensive lineman and defensive lineman Johnny Chambers had 55 stops, 10 sacks and four fumble recoveries. Chambers kicked one touchback this season and score a touchdown.
Senior offensive lineman and defensive end Donovan Henderson had 52 stops, one sack, three fumble recoveries and one blocked field goal. Henderson kicked two touchbacks, 15 extra points and one field goal scoring a total of 18 points.
Senior wide receiver and defensive end Damarcus Cunningham had 11 stops, one sack and one fumble recovery.
Even though the Timberwolves will not see playoff action this year, they still made school history with their winning season.