| By Myra Bean
Evan West had to look around and see who North Delta head football coach Richard Russo was talking to when he started pointing out leaders.
West said he never saw himself as a leader on the Green Wave football team even though he is one of the up and coming seniors on the roster.
Though he was blindsided by the responsibility Russo placed on his shoulder, West accepted the position offered him.
"It feels good that someone would actually believe in me to do that," West said.
His first order of business was to throw down the gauntlet to rival Magnolia Heights in Senatobia. The two teams will meet in the season opener in Batesville August 25.
West predicts this will be the toughest game of the season for the Green Waves who will play in District 1-A this year in the Mississippi Private School Association. Magnolia Heights is in District 1-AAA.
"A lot of people don’t think it can be done but personally I do," West said. "I think we have a shot this time. I really think we are going to beat Magnolia."
The Green Wave football program underwent a coaching change at the beginning of the spring season and some notable changes can been seen in the players from attitudes to work ethics to self-esteem.
West said everybody is working hard and the team as a whole is better than last year.
"As for myself, I see myself working harder," he said. "Everybody likes coach Russo. Everybody’s in the weightroom.
"I’ve changed as an athlete because I am learning more about football than I ever have," West continued. "It is lot more studying of football than we ever had. Everybody is coming together."
West will have a dual role on the team this year as tailback and safety. He plans to attend Northwest Community College when he graduates but he does not know where he will go after that. He has not made up his mind what he will study.
West said Russo is serious about the leadership roles on the team.
"He has individually talked to some of us about leadership stuff," West said. "He wants us to become stronger leaders, better people and better athletes. That is what he is trying to make us, better men and better athletes."
West is tasked with the responsibility of asking the team to step up its play.
"I know I sure want to make it to the state championship and I hope everybody else does, too," he said. "The way they have been working this summer they want to make it to the state championship. You really don’t have to ask them much. They are already acting that way."
As for players West looks up to, he named former North Delta players Brandon Ciaramitaro, Cody Hallmark, Chad McMahan and Hayden Sullivant, who made their mark while players at North Delta.
Ball carriers have an added pressure on the football field and West is aware of that. He said he does feel some extra pressure as the ball carrier.
"You have to be able to do your job for other things and let others carry the ball and have a good run, too," he said. "I love carrying the ball. That’s all I have wanted to do."
The Green Waves had to learn a new game plan but that was no problem to West.
"Actually, I like it better," he said. "It’s not really harder. He just knows his football."
West denied learning a new game plan was asking too much of the team.
As for other changes under Russo the public may not see but the players do, "Everything is about us," West said.
"He would do anything for us," he added. "Anything we asked of him to, even outside of football, outside of school. That’s just one thing everybody likes about him, that I like about him. He’s just a great guy."
He is the son of Nolan and Pam West and has a brother Hunter. His grandparents in Batesville are Grace West and Georgia Evans.