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Rushing pleased by Cathedral’s summer numbers

Mississippi State’s Demarcus Henderson hangs his head in frustration after grounding into a double play in MSU’s 3-1 loss to UCLA in the College World Series finals opener in Omaha, Neb. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Cathedral High School senior Turner Janette focuses on a pass during a football practice on Monday afternoon.

NATCHEZ — Entering into year four of being at the helm of the Cathedral High School football program, head coach Ron Rushing said his team has hit a high note.

The Green Wave players have been hard at work with summer conditioning for several weeks, and Rushing said he’s pleased with the numbers he’s seen so far.

“This is probably the best participation we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Rushing said. “We’ve kind of built up the attendance the last four years,”

And his players also said they’re happy with how things have gone. Rising senior left guard Bayard Watts said he’s noticed improvement in himself and his teammates.

Cathedral High School senior Rodney Hall performs a high kick during warm-ups before a football practice on Monday afternoon. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Cathedral High School senior Rodney Hall performs a high kick during warm-ups before a football practice on Monday afternoon. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

“Everyone is getting stronger and doing better than what we’ve been doing,” he said.

Rising senior linebacker Rodney Hall said they’ve even been able to get a bit of a head start on the playbook.

“We’re putting all of our plays in early so there are no questions in the season,” Hall said. “Our defense is easy to learn. Even though we don’t have a defensive coordinator yet, we’ll get everything down pat before the season comes.

“(Rushing) is trying to put in the offense — all of the routes — which is why we go to 7-on-7s on Tuesdays and Saturdays.”

June focuses more on gaining muscle mass and agility, while July is more conditioning-oriented, Rushing said. Cathedral strength coach Jonathan Gamberi said there’s more to building mass than simply lifting weights every day. Diet plays a heavy part, and the coaches encourage their players to eat the right kinds of food.

“They have to eat a lot,” Gamberi said. “An athlete is not a normal kid. You have to fill them with proteins, calories and healthy fats. You have to be fueled constantly.”

Gamberi also stressed that building mass is not the only goal of the summer workout routine.

“With our program, it’s getting them more explosive and working on their fast-twitch muscles, where we can be explosive and do some of the same movements on the field, because football is an explosive sport,” Gamberi said.

Mental toughness is also something the Cathedral coaches want to develop, and Watts said it’s one of the main reasons perfect attendance at summer practice is important.

“You have to develop (mental toughness) by making every practice and wanting to be there,” Watts said.

Hall said another important aspect of summer conditioning was to help build depth, depth that will be needed as the season goes along this fall.

“This lets the younger kids get reps so that if (the starters) get tired, they can get take a break, and there will be no doubt the younger guys can handle the job,” Hall said.

Even with all of the hard work, though, Rushing said it wouldn’t be totally evident right away in the fall.

“It will take three games before you get into playing shape,” Rushing said.