Bulldogs more than just one big victory

Published 12:12am Sunday, September 23, 2012

One headline suggestion after Natchez High School’s huge 54-41 win against Meridian High School was, “Every dog has its day.”

Though a cute play on words, it didn’t tell the true story. This is not the first big “day” for the Bulldogs, and it certainly won’t be the last.

But let’s not pretend that Friday night’s upset wasn’t the biggest win for the Bulldogs in the last couple of seasons, though. I would argue it was NHS’s biggest win since Aug. 21, 2009.

Few NHS fans could forget being up against Jefferson County High School 51-24 with mere seconds left in the game. Even fewer could forget the lasting tribute the players and coaches paid to someone very special to their hearts.

Bulldog lineman Larry Brown’s life ended tragically Christmas Day 2008 when he was killed in a car accident. Brown’s No. 59 jersey was retired before kickoff in that late August game, and the Bulldog players wanted to give him one final shout out.

So NHS scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion to put 59 points on the board for Brown, a fitting nod to a special Bulldog.

In one of life’s little ironies, it’s not hard to imagine someone looking up at the scoreboard this past Friday, squinting and imagining the point total reading “59” for NHS instead of “54.” With scoreboard numbers, it’s just one missing line.

If Brown were on-hand Friday night, there’s no doubt he would have been proud of his Bulldogs. And while there may have been one missing line on the scoreboard, there certainly wasn’t a missing link on the field for NHS.

The Bulldog offensive linemen opened holes for their running backs like they were making Swiss cheese. With 298 yards rushing, the NHS ground game led the charge, but the passing game didn’t disappoint, either. NHS was 14 of 16 in passing for 171 yards and two touchdowns, another indication of good offensive line play, as they gave the Bulldog quarterbacks plenty of time to throw.

Not bad for a NHS team that most people assumed had less of a chance to win than a Crimson Tide fan has in escaping Tiger Stadium without a beer bath.

Meridian entered Friday’s contest rated by the Associated Press as not only the No. 1 team in MHSAA Class 6A, but also the No. 1 team in the state overall.

The closest NHS has gotten to beating Meridian in the last nine years is a 24-20 loss on the road. The Wildcats are a perennial power in Class 6A, and Friday’s Bulldog win was a shot in the air to let others know that this NHS team is not one to dismiss.

If people didn’t give NHS a chance Friday, they also were probably skeptical of the Bulldogs in general after a 24-22 loss at home to Class 3A Wilkinson County High School. Of course, those Wildcats are currently 5-0 and fielding a very good team, but it’s almost unheard of for a good 3A team to beat a good 6A team.

Despite the doubts that rose after that opening-night loss, the Bulldogs slowly improved week to week and took advantage of a bye week leading up to Friday’s game. Now, NHS is in the driver’s seat of its Region 3-6A destiny.

The big win almost certainly erases the sting of the Bulldogs’ loss to the Wilkinson County Wildcats back in August. The ’dogs had their shot at another group of Wildcats Friday — and in this instance, dogs really were much better than cats.

 

Michael Kerekes is the sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3632 or michael.kerekes@natchezdemocrat.com.