By Austin Bishop
The Choctaw County Plaindealer
Despite losing the first four games of the season, French Camp Academy head football coach Nathan Wright never lost sight of how good his football team could be or how tough the competition was his Panthers were playing.
But, he acknowledged that it was good for team morale to for FCA to finally pick its first victory of the season with a 32-6 home win over Region 3-1A foe West Lowndes on Friday night.
“It was significant,” Wright. “We just needed something positive to happen. Not everybody understands you are playing good competition. A lot of them get discouraged. When you get that win it really feels good to the players. Maybe it will give them the motivation to have a good week of practice.”
The win evens French Camp’s region record at 1-1 on the season and puts the Panthers at 1-4 overall. Three of FCA’s four losses have been by a touchdown or less, including two the Panthers led in the fourth quarter.
Next up for French Camp is a home match-up with Region 3-1A foe West Oktibbeha, followed by a road trip to East Oktibbeha. After an open date on Oct. 11, the Panthers will then close out the regular season with four consecutive league games. The top four teams in the region will advance to the MHSAA Class 1A State Football Playoffs.
West Oktibbeha comes into French Camp on Friday night with a 0-2 record, both of which were division losses. Due to being under the supervision of the state department of education, neither West Oktibbeha nor East Oktibbeha has been allowed to play any games that weren’t region contests.
The Timberwolves lost Sebastopol 47-0 two weeks ago to open their season and fell to Noxapater 42-0 last week.
In it’s win over West Lowndes last Friday night, French Camp combated the wet weather by mounting a strong rushing attack.
“We were able to run the ball pretty well,” Wright said. “We needed to have that part of our game.”
Hagan Box rushed for 90 yards on 18 carries to lead FCA, while Daniel Hughes had 13 attempts for 65 yards.
While senior quarterback Jesse Hosket only attempted a limited number of passes, he made the three he completed count, with two of those going for touchdowns.
FCA led 6-0 after one quarter of play thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run by Box. The Panthers used a 2-yard scoring run by Box in the second quarter and a two-point conversion run by Daniel Hughes to take a 14-0 halftime advantage.
West Lowndes tried to mound a comeback in the third quarter with a 5-yard touchdown run to cut the FCA lead to 14-6, only to have Cole Henson tackle a WL runner in the end zone for a safety to push the Panthers’ advantage back out to 10 points at 16-6.
Later in the third quarter Henson scored on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Hosket, who connected with Hunter McKnight for a 17-yard scoring play in the fourth quarter. Box ran in the two-point conversion following each of FCA’s second-half touchdowns.
Henson led the FCA defense with nine tackles, while Box had eight and Hoskett had seven. Nyang Wek, Cortez Johnson and Daniel Hughes had six stops each, while Daniel Hughes and Douglas Hughes each recovered a fumble.