Natchez to make ‘balanced’ meal of Tigers

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 25, 2000

Maybe it was the players yelling and laughing as a cool afternoon rain eased the heat of Thursday’s practice.

Maybe it was the chants and rhythmic pounding on lockers as the players filed into their locker room.

Or maybe it was the bright rainbow that arced over the stadium as the Bulldogs trotted off the field after their last practice before the first game of the season.

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Whatever it was, Natchez seemed ready to play football.

And it’s a good thing, too, as the Jefferson County Tigers are coming to town to do just that at 7:30 tonight.

&uot;I just want to make sure we’re ready to play,&uot; Natchez head coach Elbert &uot;Mo&uot; Lyles said. &uot;For the most part, we’ve done all we can do.&uot;

Lyles said the Tigers’ strengths are size, aggressiveness and a versatile quarterback.

&uot;He has the potential to throw or run the ball,&uot; Lyles said.

The quarterback in question, junior Londell Eanochs, sat out much of last season with an arm injury, said Jefferson head coach Johnny Dunbar.

&uot;He’ll be ready,&uot; Dunbar said. &uot;I think he’ll be okay.&uot;

Lyles said the Bulldogs have a balanced offense.

&uot;I couldn’t say right now if we’re a better running team or throwing team,&uot; he said.

Because of that balance, Lyles said it will be the play of his skill position players that will decide the game.

Quarterback Donald Butler, running back Roderick &uot;Roc&uot; Conner and fullback Christopher McDonald, all seniors, will have to step up and lead for the Bulldogs to be successful, Lyles said.

&uot;We’re also counting on the line to make things happen for us,&uot; Lyles said.

Dunbar said Natchez’s speed, coupled with an option offense, will be tough to stop.

&uot;They’ve got a ground game,&uot; he said. &uot;They’re going to try to rush on us.&uot;

Defensively, Natchez will be without senior linebacker Harry Smith, who suffered a serious knee injury in practice Wednesday.

&uot;It’s possible that he won’t be out for the entire season,&uot; Lyles said. &uot;It will really be up to him, and how hard he works at rehabilitation.&uot;

Smith’s spot will be filled by senior Ronnie Richardson, Lyles said.

&uot;Ronnie’s had a great preseason,&uot; Lyles said. &uot;I have a lot of confidence in him.&uot;