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By DANNY P. SMITH
Losing is not acceptable for the West Point Green Wave.
For a program that has won two-straight state championships, the Green Wave have gotten used to winning football games and are not happy when that doesn't happen.
That's why this year's 0-2 start doesn't rest well with West Point coach Chris Chambless.
"We lost to some good people, but any time you sit here 0-2, it takes a toll on your team mentally," Chambless said. "We play to win. You don't play just to compete. We're trying to overcome it, trying to practice hard, trying to correct mistakes and do the things all football teams do."
The Green Wave lost a 37-17 decision to traditionally-strong South Panola to open the season, then fell to an improved Columbus squad 35-27 following an open date.
Chambless believes facing the early adversity against good competition will benefit West Point by the time the division schedule begins.
"I wanted to play a rough schedule and I got what I asked for, but it's going to make us better," Chambless said.
Chambless looks to senior quarterback Dequinten Spraggins for leadership, especially during this year's slow start.
"The quarterback is always looked upon to be the team leader, especially on offense, but (Spraggins) is coming along, playing well at quarterback for us and emerging as our team leader," Chambless said. "That's what we need more of is team leadership and he's taking upon himself to take that role. You've got to have people step up in rough times as well as good times and he's doing that."
Spraggins has completed four passes for 34 yards and a touchdown for the Green Wave, but is also dangerous when he runs the football with 90 yards on 10 carries.
West Point looks for its first win of the season against Starkville on Friday night at home. The game between the rivals begins at 7:30 p.m.
Last year's 21-20 loss to the Yellowjackets still stings for the Green Wave.
"They came in here last year and took our manhood from us," Chambless said. "They are a much improved team. They are a good team and well-coached with a lot of good players."