East Webster quarterback Ledrick Patterson (12) breaks a run into the open field as running back Demetrius O'Briant (30) follows close behind. (Kim Murrell/SDN)
High school football thrives on drama.
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Each year, new heroes are made when the kid down the street throws a last-second, game-winning touchdown pass, or the young man from church makes a critical, game-saving tackle at the goal-line.
Through eight games in 2010, none of the above has applied to the East Webster Wolverines.
Coach Jimmy Carden's bunch has steamrolled through Class 2A, Region 2, charging to an 8-0 overall record with a 2-0 mark in division play, sparing the fingernails and blood pressures of the fan base.
They've dominated offensively, scoring more points (332) than any team in 2A football. They've had a stranglehold defensively, allowing fewer than nine points per game.
As impressive as these figures are, the Wolverines still seem to be taking a backseat to schools like Calhoun City and Taylorsville when it comes to rankings, as East Webster currently sits at number five in Class 2A in the latest Associated Press poll.
Mississippi Prep Sports Source is slightly kinder, placing the Wolverines fourth.
Rankings aside, East Webster's opponents realize just how much potential resides in Cumberland.
"They were one play away from playing for a state championship last year," said West Oktibbeha head coach Adam Lowrey after being defeated 55-27 by East Webster earlier this year. "They returned everybody, so they are a really good ball team. They are just a physical, strong team."
Ackerman head coach Adam Dillinger's team fell victim 41-14 to the Wolverines last week and saw first-hand how tough they can be.
"They're an awfully good football team," Dillinger said. "They run the triple-option as good as any team I've ever seen and all three options are a threat."
The trio Dillinger speaks of, quarterback Ledrick Patterson, and running backs Demetrius O'Briant and Timakis Bell, are the centerpieces of East Webster's dominance.
Patterson, O'Briant, and Bell have combined this season for 1,844 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground alone.
Patterson has also thrown for 336 yards and six touchdowns, but it's sharing the ball with his backfield mates that bring him the most joy.
"I've got faith in every last one of them," said Patterson after the West Oktibbeha game. "We grew up with each other. Ever since elementary, we've been together. We try to keep that on the field, stick together, and just have fun."
Carden says that attitude is evident every Friday night.
"We run a very unselfish offense," said Carden of his triple-option attack. "It has to be because that's the only way you can run it. (Patterson) does a good job of reading. If the first read is there he gives it up, and if it's not, he keeps it, and if that one closes, he pitches to the next guy. He's just real unselfish and has good natural instincts.
"All three of them (Patterson, O'Briant, and Bell) are just real athletic, sees things well and the offensive line has done a good job, too."
Reflecting Patterson's willingness to share the limelight is Bell, who says a lack of egos has bred East Webster's strong start.
"We just remind each other every day during practice that there aren't any big 'I's'," said Bell. "Everybody is the same. We are one big family. If one person feels down, we all feel down."
To this point, there hasn't been any tough times for East Webster that would hurt team morale. Even scarier is the fact that the group seems to be getting stronger as the year progresses, outscoring their last three opponents by a combined score of 100-14.
Included in that group were cross-county rival Eupora and defending Class 2A North champion Ackerman.
On paper at least, the Wolverines will have the advantage in their remaining three regular season contests as well.
The upcoming East Webster slate sees them battle a pair of 3-5 teams in Hamilton and J.Z. George, before facing what could be a matchup for the region crown in the final game, at home against currently 5-2 West Lowndes.
So with things seemingly stacked in their favor, how do the Wolverines tread that fine line between confidence and overconfidence?
Even Carden struggles to answer.
"That's a tough question," said Carden. "We just try to keep focus on doing what we do and doing it well. We work on that every day in practice. Sometimes you play to make yourself better and that's what we do and that's how we practice every day. We try to get better. We don't want to stay in the middle, we want to move forward."
At least at this point, with the threats that Carden has at his disposal, it's hard to imagine any team slowing the Wolverines' progress down.