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Teams play in rivalry openers

NATCHEZ — If the opponent reads “St. Aloysius” on the schedule, Cathedral High School fans might think it’s late in the season.

But with realignment moving the Flashes from Region 4-1A to Region 2-1A in the Mississippi High School Activities Association, Cathedral’s biggest rival was suddenly a non-conference opponent.

Not willing to drop the annual game between the two schools, both opted to open their seasons against each other, as Cathedral is set to host St. Al at 7 p.m. tonight.

“It’s not any different for us,” Green Wave head coach Ron Rushing said. “I feel good about where we’re at, but there’s always a little extra incentive playing them. They’re well-coached, and they’re always going to come out and play well.”

Rushing said the Flashes were big up front and hungry to get the season started off well after struggling for several years.

“They have good size, and they return a lot of people,” Rushing said. “They’re very experienced and very hungry. They’re a team ready to turn the corner.”

Having the Flashes in the early part of the schedule is a great way to give his players a little extra motivation in week one, Rushing said.

“You get slapped in the face right off the bat,” he said. “You have to play clean and smart. It puts pressure on you to perform well right away.”

Natchez High School

The Bulldog players haven’t forgotten last year’s 24-22 loss to Wilkinson County High School, and head coach Lance Reed said it should be fresh on their minds when they take on the Wildcats at 7 p.m. today.

“We’re excited,” Reed said. “There’s a revenge factor in play. We had a chance to do 7-on-7 (drills) against them, and we have a good relationship with that team, but we compete well against them.”

Reed said the victory last year was big for the Wildcats, a 3A team, since NHS was a 6A team at the time. The Bulldogs moved down to Class 5A in the offseason, but Reed said Wilkinson County would be a good test even if they are two classifications below NHS.

“We want to use this as a measuring stick for where we are,” Reed said. “We’re hungry to get off to a good start.”

Any plan to stop the Wildcats center around stopping quarterback Devin Voorhies and wide receiver Allenzae Staggers, Reed said.

“You have to know where they are at all times,” he said. “You’re not really going to be able to stop them completely, but we have to be able to contain them as best as we can.”

Jefferson County High School

FAYETTE — Jefferson County head coach James Herrington said his team isn’t quite where he wants it to be, but he has a good feeling heading into tonight’s match up at South Pike High School.

“I like the tempo my guys have shown throughout practice,” Herrington said. “We seem to be working together and paying attention to detail, especially after making mistakes last week against Lanier.”

Herrington said last week’s jamboree game against Lanier High School was a tale of two halves: In the first half, the Tigers came out crisp, but in the second half, there were numerous mental errors.

“This week we’re focusing on going out and not making those mistakes,” Herrington said.

South Pike will likely bring a run-oriented game plan to the gridiron, Herrington said.

“Even with different coaches over the last few years, they’re a team that will come in with a run-first mentality,” he said. “They normally have pretty good size across the front. Even on bad years they’ve had big kids, and they’re normally very physical.”

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. today at South Pike High School.