By Austin Bishop
The Winston County Journal
According to Nanih Waiya High School head football coach Tate Hanna, his Warriors only have two switches on their motivation dial — on or off.
“It seems like either we show up and play good or we don’t play at all,” Hanna said. “We preached and preached to them that they had to be up and ready to play French Camp like they were for Sebastopol and for Noxapater, but they just weren’t.”
He said his Warriors competed in the first quarter, but after the first four drives resulted in turnovers, “it all just went down hill.”
The result was a surprising 54-6 loss to French Camp Academy in a game that could have put the Warriors in the hunt for the region title had they won.
Instead Nanih Waiya goes into Friday night’s regular-season ending home game against West Oktibbeha needing a win to qualify for the MHSAA Class 1A High School football playoffs.
If the Warriors win on Friday they will finish either third or fourth in Region 3-1A, according to the outcome of the French Camp at Sebastopol contest on the same night. If FCA wins, the Panthers will be third and NW fourth. If Sebastopol wins, the Warriors will be third and Sebastopol fourth.
While Hanna was openly disappointed with his team’s effort for most of the game, he was also quick to recognize how well French Camp played.
“That’s the first game they’ve really had all their players,” he said. “When they have everybody, they are a really, really good football team and will be hard to beat. (Michael) Erving is tough. He is a game-changer. We couldn’t tackle him.”
Erving, who rushed for 127 yards on seven carries for the Panthers, put FCA on the scoreboard first with a 23-yard touchdown run, only to have Nanih Waiya respond with a 60-yard touchdown run by Jamarlo Smith cut it to 7-6. A 41-yard scoring run by Hagan Box and the extra point kick by Sam Gould gave the winners a 14-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
French Camp picked up second-quarter touchdowns on a 25-yard run by Erving and a 6-yard run by Jesse Hosket to go up 27-6 at the break, then added 27 points in the second half, including a 65-yard pass reception by Erving.
Box rushed for 101 yards on 14 carries, while Hosket hit on 7-of-9 passes for 193 yards. Erving led FCA in receiving with three catches for 82 yards.
Smith led the 6-4 Warriors with 161 rushing yards on 22 carries, while Stewart Ball hit on 3-of-13 passes for 34 yards and Jones had two catches for 27 yards. Smith had one catch for seven yards
Marcellous Grady led NW with eight tackles, including one for a loss, while Ethan Copeland had five tackles, including one for a loss. Garrett Miles recorded an interception for the Warriors.