By JOEL COLEMAN
ACKERMAN â€“ If there was any question, West Bolivar has confirmed that they are much more than a one-trick pony.
As Eagles junior running back and Ole Miss commitment Kailo Moore sat out with an injury sustained last week, West Bolivar topped Ackerman 34-3 Friday night in the third round of the Class 2A playoffs, ending the Indiansâ€™ season with a flurry of big performances from players not named Moore.
â€śTheyâ€™ve got a lot of good players,â€ť said Ackerman head coach Adam Dillinger. â€śPlus theyâ€™re well-coached and they play hard. Thatâ€™s a very potent combination.â€ť
West Bolivar (13-1) used its mixture of talent to perfection in advancing to next weekâ€™s Class 2A North final at Calhoun City.
Four different Eagles scored at least one touchdown and four more West Bolivar players came up with interceptions to surge to the victory.
â€śA team effort is what itâ€™s going to take to win a state championship,â€ť said West Bolivar head coach Henry Johnson. â€śWe had our No. 1 guy (Moore) out, but I was proud of how the rest of the guys stepped up. They made the plays for us. Weâ€™re better when we can do that instead of relying on just one guy.â€ť
William Lloyd had 149 yards rushing and two touchdowns to pace the Eagles offensively.
Deandre Cooper threw for a score and had a touchdown reception, while Jovious Wade and Trevoris Hampton found the end zone once each on the ground for West Bolivar.
The Eagles defense held the Indians (10-4) to just 148 total offensive yards, nearly half of those coming from Ackerman senior running back K.J. Woods, who rushed 23 times for 71 yards.
West Bolivarâ€™s Demarrion Haynes, Rashon Conway, Keaston Williams and Jalen Honorable all helped halt Ackerman drives by hauling in interceptions.
â€śYouâ€™ve got to be so precise against (West Bolivarâ€™s defense),â€ť said Dillinger. â€śThey are so fast and they get to the ball so quickly. Thereâ€™s little room for error. Thatâ€™s what is overlooked on them. Everyone talks about their offense, but their defense makes them go.â€ť
Though the Eagles defense kept the Indians in check all night long, limiting Ackerman to just a Roman Ramirez 23-yard field goal in the second quarter, it was West Bolivarâ€™s offense that set the stage for the game early.
The Eagles scored on their first two possessions â€“ Lloyd on a 7-yard run and Cooper on a 33-yard reception â€“ as West Bolivar went up 12-0 in the first quarter.
Ramirez helped Ackerman cut into the lead with his field goal early in the second quarter, but West Bolivar stretched its advantage to 18-3 prior to halftime when Cooper threw a 47-yard touchdown pass on a trick play.
The Eagles put an exclamation point on their win in the second half with Lloydâ€™s second touchdown run, a 9-yard scamper, late in the third quarter and Trevoris Hamptonâ€™s 3-yard run with 2 minutes left in the game.
From there, West Bolivar could turn its attention to another week of play as the Eagles continue their quest to hoist a golden ball at seasonâ€™s end.
â€śThis team is hungry,â€ť said Johnson. â€śWeâ€™re playing with a chip on our shoulder.â€ť
Meanwhile Ackerman faced the end of what was an improbable season.
One year after finishing the season 1-10, the Indians finally ran out of magic in their memorable 2011 campaign.
â€śThis year has been something else,â€ť said Ackerman junior quarterback Dakota Brasher. â€śYou go from a 1-10 season to fighting for a chance to go to the North championship, somewhere nobody ever thought weâ€™d be. To lose, itâ€™s hard, mainly for our seniors because you just feel like they deserve better.
â€śBut to fight through that 1-10 season and get back here. Itâ€™s crazy how things like that can happen. Weâ€™re proud to have gotten where we did and all we can do now is just hit the weight room in the offseason, come back and be ready for next year.â€ť