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Falcons fly to postseason

LAUREN WOOD | The Natchez Democrat — Jakarius Caston looks down field to throw a pass at the Natchez Falcons A Team football practice Wednesday evening at Natchez High School. The Falcons will travel to Jackson to face the Jackson Titans at noon Saturday in the first round of the Mississippi Youth Sports Association playoffs.

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Falcons A Team may have already beaten the Jackson Titans, but head coach Deselle Davis said that’s all in the past.

The Falcons begin postseason play Saturday afternoon, and they will face off against last weekend’s opponent in the Titans. Natchez got the best of its Jackson counterparts 34-0, and Davis said he’s trying to keep his players from being overconfident when the two teams square off again in the first round of the Mississippi Youth Sports Association playoffs.

“I told them Monday, don’t take them lightly,” Davis said. “It’s a brand new season. Everyone’s 0-0, and we have to go out and play them like they’re the best team in the league.”

The postseason is the next step for the Falcons after they finished their youth football regular season with an 8-1-1 record. The tie came after a game was called the Saturday after Tropical Storm Isaac moved through the area.

Davis said he’s been especially impressed with his group of 11- and 12-year-olds in how they’ve responded to the coaches’ challenges of practicing and playing hard.

“They’re putting in the time,” Davis said. “They want to win, and they have a good attitude. No one wants to lose.”

Leadership from the older players also factors heavily into the team’s success, Davis said. Maurice Thornburg, a 12-year-old, said it’s important for the older players to get everyone on the same page.

“We tell them what they’re doing wrong and correct them,” Thornburg said. “We’re very excited we made it to the playoffs, because it’s one step closer to reaching our dream of winning a championship.”

Sportsmanship is a key component to the coaches’ lessons, Davis said, as is developing good work habits.

“In order to be successful in life, you have to work hard,” Davis said. “Hard work and dedication, that’s something you want to get out of life.”

Davis also oversees the T.M. Jennings youth baseball league, and some of the same children that play in T.M. Jennings play for the Falcons.

“It’s easier working with both leagues, because I know how to deal with (the children) and what I expect of them, and they know how to deal with me,” Davis said.

Because of that familiarity, Davis said the players are also familiar with what he expects of them with school and their home life.

“They know how I feel about having a bad attitude and not doing what you’re supposed to at school and at home,” Davis said. “If they aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do, I don’t want them out here.”

Discipline might be a tough pill to swallow, but Davis said it’s important for children to learn the importance of it at an early age.

“Everywhere you go, you’re going to have rules and regulations,” Davis said. “Without discipline, you can’t accomplish anything.”

Eleven-year-old Vincent Carter plays left guard for the Falcons, and he said he enjoys going up against defensive linemen and trying to block them.

“I like to block people and do my best in the games,” Carter said.

And proper blocking techniques are something the coaches make sure to get across to their linemen, Carter said.

“You have to come off the ball hard and low, get up under their shoulder pads and drive as hard as you can,” Carter said.

Though he won’t be able to play because of a neck and back injury, Thornburg said this year’s team has been fun to play with.

“I feel like they have a passion to be good this year, and we’ve accomplished that,” Thornburg said. “We want a championship.”

Kickoff is at noon Saturday in Jackson.

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