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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.
âTheyâve got a lot of good players,â said Ackerman head coach Adam Dillinger. âPlus theyâre well-coached and they play hard. Thatâs a very potent combination.â
West Bolivar (13-1) used its mixture of talent to perfection in advancing to next weekâs 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.
âA team effort is what itâs going to take to win a state championship,â said West Bolivar head coach Henry Johnson. âWe 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. Weâre better when we can do that instead of relying on just one guy.â
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 Bolivarâs Demarrion Haynes, Rashon Conway, Keaston Williams and Jalen Honorable all helped halt Ackerman drives by hauling in interceptions.
âYouâve got to be so precise against (West Bolivarâs defense),â said Dillinger. âThey are so fast and they get to the ball so quickly. Thereâs little room for error. Thatâs what is overlooked on them. Everyone talks about their offense, but their defense makes them go.â
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 Bolivarâs 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 Lloydâs second touchdown run, a 9-yard scamper, late in the third quarter and Trevoris Hamptonâs 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 seasonâs end.
âThis team is hungry,â said Johnson. âWeâre playing with a chip on our shoulder.â
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.
âThis year has been something else,â said Ackerman junior quarterback Dakota Brasher. âYou go from a 1-10 season to fighting for a chance to go to the North championship, somewhere nobody ever thought weâd be. To lose, itâs hard, mainly for our seniors because you just feel like they deserve better.
âBut to fight through that 1-10 season and get back here. Itâs crazy how things like that can happen. Weâre 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