MABEN – With less than a week to go now before the high school football season officially kicks off, it appears the West Oktibbeha Timberwolves are primed and ready.
Facing McAdams in a preseason jamboree Friday night in Maben, the Timberwolves flexed both their offensive and defensive muscles against the Bulldogs, dominating the scrimmage from start to finish on both sides of the ball.
With his team displaying the characteristics that has him believing a special season could be in store for West Oktibbeha, Timberwolves head coach Adam Lowrey summed Friday night's action up in just two words.
"Very pleased," said Lowrey.
Lowrey's analysis was well-founded. In a pair of 15-minute halves, West Oktibbeha wasted little time in out-performing the competition from Attala County.
In the first period, which featured the Bulldogs offense up against the Timberwolves defense, West Oktibbeha kept McAdams out of the end zone, putting into practice the tactics that Timberwolves defensive coach Kelvin Cistrunk has recently been preaching to his unit.
"When I see our linebackers flowing freely, our noses drawing double-teams and great play from our tackles, I like that," said Cistrunk. "I just want us to be faster and go faster."
The Timberwolves' speed wasn't an issue against the over-matched Bulldogs. West Oktibbeha, for the most part, limited McAdams to short-yardage gains throughout the night, seemingly frustrating the Bulldogs offense.
Yet Cistrunk says his unit still has the ability to play better, something that he says is vital to West Oktibbeha's success going forward.
"We looked decent, but as the year progresses, the competition level will just get higher," said Cistrunk. "So we'll have to step it up."
If the Timberwolves defense does happen to struggle at any point during the 2011 season, Friday night proved that West Oktibbeha's offense may be potent enough to pick up the slack.
The Timberwolves, led by junior quarterback Von Smith, found the end zone on all five of their first-team offensive possessions in the jamboree's second half.
"We've been working hard on our offense," said Smith. "At practice, we get a lot of reps in. We try to be almost perfect. That's a big word to say, but (Lowrey), he makes sure we get it right in practice and that helps our offense."
Smith had plenty of help in pushing the Timberwolves down the field.
Receivers Drake Powell and Dwight Quinn, along with running backs Tiberias Lampkin and Shun Fair, each found paydirt at least once on Friday.
Fair says that type of offensive diversity is what will make West Oktibbeha dangerous in 2011.
"I really feel we are (balanced)," said Fair. "We're all just stepping up, putting it in God's hands and doing what we can."
Lowrey says he's excited with how his offensive attack seems to be coming together after the solid showing against McAdams.
"We just want to do what we do well," said Lowrey. "We don't want to do a lot of stuff, we just want to be perfect at a few things. My main thing is, we just want to be as fast as we can be and see if anyone can keep up with us."
At least for one night, West Oktibbeha's opposition couldn't compete with the speed of the Timberwolves.
Lowrey hopes that trend continues beginning with next week's season opener in Flowood against University Christian.
After Friday's action, Lowrey now has a very good idea of where his club stands as the season cranks into gear.
"I don't have 22 people to put in at practice, so (the jamboree) was the best practice we could have had," said Lowrey. "We had live bodies out there trying to stop us and it was just the best preparation we could ask for."