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NHS, Wilkinson County set to square off

Natchez High School’s Derrian Johnson practices carrying the ball during Monday afternoon’s practice. Johnson and the rest of the Bulldogs will play host to Wilkinson County High School Friday. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Local football fans hoping to see Natchez and Wilkinson County high schools play some football last Friday were forced to wait until this week.

Both teams were scheduled to play a scrimmage in the Natchez High School jamboree last Friday, with NHS facing Port Gibson and Wilkinson County playing Wingfield, but wet weather forced the jamboree to be canceled. Now, the two teams are set to face each other as NHS plays host to the Wildcats at 7:30 Friday night.

“Hopefully, we’re on schedule,” Wilkinson County head coach Kenneth Brown said. “It would’ve been nice to get a scrimmage in, but we just have to play it like we see it. Hopefully, not having it won’t hurt us.”

NHS head coach Lance Reed said he doesn’t think the lack of a preseason scrimmage will affect things too much as his team prepares for Wilkinson County.

“We feel like we had a good fall camp,” Reed said. “Friday was (going to be) a measurement of exactly where we were, but we weren’t able to get that in. We still feel comfortable with the work we put in.”

When the two teams take the field Friday, Reed said he expects Wilkinson County to bring a heavy dose of Devin Voorhies at the Bulldogs.

“He’s one of several athletes they have, and he’s their go-to man,” Reed said. “We expect a physical game and tough defense from Wilkinson County, and we’re really excited about this game.”

Brown said the Bulldogs would likely run the same spread offense they have for the past several seasons.

“We’ve been playing them for years, so we know what to expect,” Brown said. “I don’t think they’ll change very much from what they’ve done — probably a wrinkle or two, but overall, they like the spread and stay with it.”

Missing out on the jamboree also means missing out on a chance for the teams to scout each other, Brown said.

“It affects us to the point where we didn’t get to look at their game situations,” Brown said. “That probably hurts us more than anything.”

Reed said even if he would have gotten to see the Wildcats play last Friday, he’s not sure how much he could have taken away from it.

“Typically, a jamboree is something that’s kind of vanilla as far as what they offer you,” Reed said. “They’re not showing you a lot, so we just have to be able to adjust (when we play). We’re prepared for a lot of different scenarios, schemes, formations, fronts and things of that sort.”

Although Wilkinson County is a 3A school and NHS is a 6A school, Reed said his players can’t just show up assuming they’ll win.

“This team is coming after us; we’re not guaranteed a victory,” Reed said. “We have to go out and perform to win.”

Brown said despite the numbers advantage for NHS, his starters will have to go toe-to-toe with the Bulldogs if they want to come out on top.

“Sure, they have a few more bodies to choose from, but the only thing you can do is put the best 11 on the field and hope they can match up,” Brown said.

And hopefully, the weather will cooperate a little better than it did last week.

“There’s rain in the forecast, so we just have to hope for the best,” Brown joked.