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Natchez, Ferriday, Cathedral HS teams compete in 7-on-7 games

Thomas Graning | The Natchez Democrat — Ferriday’s TJ Swanson catches a pass over Cathedral’s Jacob Jenkins during a seven-on-seven camp at Cathedral Tuesday.
Ferriday’s TJ Swanson catches a pass over Cathedral’s Jacob Jenkins during a seven-on-seven camp at Cathedral Tuesday. (Thomas Graning / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Following Lance Reed’s resignation from Natchez High School, change remains a major talking point surrounding the Bulldog football team.

So it should come as no surprise that the remaining coaching staff has decided to further switch things up.

At Cathedral High School’s 7-on-7 event Tuesday night, which hosted Natchez and Ferriday High School, soon-to-be ninth grader Christopher Scott played quarterback, while senior Sidney Davis lined up at wide receiver, his natural position.

The decision to insert Scott as the starting quarterback and move Davis, who practiced as the starting quarterback in the spring, back to wideout in the summer was a decision made by assistant coach Steve Davis.

Before Reed left, Davis and the former head coach had conversations about which quarterback should be the starter. Reed was in favor of Sidney, while his assistant was in favor of Scott.

A similar scenario has played out before. Roughly a decade ago, the two argued whether sophomore Jason Bruce should be the starting quarterback or not, and Davis was in favor of Bruce at the time. Ultimately, Bruce became the starter and performed at a high level at Natchez High School.

“I’m hoping history repeats itself,” Davis said.

Davis has been a long-time supporter of Scott. In fact, he’s been working with him since Scott was a seventh grader, and after watching him progress over the years, Davis felt this move could give the offense a spark. The results, of course, hinge on the success of Scott, who with his poised delivery against Cathedral reared back and drilled a back-shoulder fade that found its target.

“The pressure’s on me to go out and perform,” Scott said. “It helps having a playmaker like Sidney out there at his natural position though.”

Scott fitted the ball through tight windows and showed great accuracy throughout the individual 20-minute 7-on-7 scrimmages, but he also showed signs of inexperience.

“Growing pains,” said Davis, who watched his quarterback misread the defense and throw to the wrong teammate. “We’re going to ride with him though. He’s young, so he’s going to make mistakes, but just look at him. He has the talent to do this.”

Young, talented and eager, Scott is trying to make the most of this opportunity.

“I’m just excited,” Scott said. “I need to work on a lot, but Coach Davis has been working with me for a couple years now. He’s getting me prepared.”

One couldn’t ask for a better preparer than Ferriday’s defense, which showed its athleticism against Cathedral and Ferriday by nullifying both offenses and keeping them out of the end zone in the Trojans’ first two 7-on-7 games.

Ferriday head coach Cleothis Cummings was happy to see the continued development of his experienced defense.

“These guys have been playing since they were freshmen,” said Cummings, who pointed out the technique his defense exhibited. “We have five seniors on defense returning.”

The offense didn’t look too bad either, especially with Ronald Williams back at quarterback. In an ironic twist, Williams returned to live action against the team that put him on the sidelines for the 2013 season. In the first game last year, Williams broke his collarbone against Natchez, and in the first 7-on-7 matchup against the Bulldogs Tuesday evening, Williams found his 6’5” target J’Shon Foster twice for scores. Foster is a sophomore coal that Cummings is trying to squeeze into a diamond.

“That’s an athlete right there,” Cummings said. “We’re trying to turn him into a wide receiver.”

Cathedral head coach Ron Rushing watched both team’s athletes and couldn’t stop grinning, happy to see great athletes in the area competing against one another.

He had a few of his own, as well, as R.J. Fleming, Jardarius Anderson and James Coley made plays all over the field.

Rushing wore his game face when his Green Wave took the field, critiquing his players and analyzing each player’s production.

“We’re just trying to see who’s competing,” Rushing said.

Cathedral’s Alex Weadock and Andrew Beesley split games at quarterback, and though it’s still early in the quarterback race, Rushing knew how valuable it was for his players to get reps in live action.

“We get a lot of this,” Rushing said. “You get out of it what you put into it. A lot of people think 7-on-7 isn’t football and is a waste, but we’re out here learning coverages, getting better at our routes and learning reads.”