1999 ends playoff streak

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 7, 1999

So when was the last time one of the four high school teams from Natchez was not competing in the high school playoffs?

Try 1990.

At Natchez High, a young offensive spelled trouble for the start.

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The Bulldogs were just manhandled in most of their games.

After a tough win at home against Jefferson County came blowout losses to Gulfport, Vicksburg and Biloxi.

That stretch took a lot out of a team looking for any confidence it could muster.

Natchez coach Elbert &uot;Mo&uot; Lyles did not expect to be competing in the playoffs this season, but he surely wasn’t expecting a two-win season.

He was hoping for a mark around .500 to build some confidence and get ready for next year, when the offensive line should be a lot better and Roderick Conner, Chris McDonald and Edwin Skipper return at skilled positions.

Obviously, next spring is going to be an important time in rebuilding confidence.

Natchez has some good-looking athletes in the eighth and ninth grades.

A good foundation needs to be built now.

I don’t think a winning season is out of the question next year and would bode well for future Bulldog teams.

You’ve heard the expression everything runs in cycles.

Well, the Bulldogs hit the bottom of that cycle this year, but there’s only one way to go now.

At Adams County Christian School, Bo Swilley had the same old tough task of competing against teams such as Jackson Prep, Jackson Academy and Madison-Ridgeland.

The Rebels were more competitive this year, even though their 4-6 record may not show it.

They were fun to watch and played with a lot of heart all year.

Swilley has a very capable coaching staff around him and while patience may not be a virtue with Natchez football fans, will continue to build a strong program at AC.

There are a number of good young athletes at AC and some very talented skilled folks coming back next season.

I predict you will have a hard time finding a better combination than Ty Smith to Russ Marks next year.

You can bet the Rebels will be fun to watch again next year.

Trinity Episcopal High had a tough time keeping enough players on the field due to injuries.

The Saint defense suffered a setback right off when William Foley suffered an ACL injury.

Then the injuries came in droves.

A tough one point loss to Tensas became tough to overcome.

A win in that opener may be the difference in the Saints going to the playoffs for the second straight year.

Trinity also has some good athletes coming up, but will have to replace its heart and soul in quarterback William McGehee. Nobody played harder week in and week out.

At Cathedral, the cycle also took a downward turn and at the worst time.

Cathedral moved up from Class 1A to 2A without the weapons it usually possesses.

You can bet Ken Beesley and his staff will re-group and expect more from next year’s squad.

But he will have some tough holes to fill on the front line with Luke Janette, Michael Byrne and Bill Reasor no longer around.

The Green Wave will be counting on a number of youngsters next year, as well.

You can’t keep a good team down for long and you can bet the Green Wave will bounce back soon.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat. He can be reached by calling 446-5172 ext. 232 or at joey.martin@natchezdemocrat.com.