Bulldogs lose, but Hogue optimistic of prospects

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 8, 2002

NATCHEZ &045; Dennis Hogue knows his Natchez High soccer teams will suffer some bruises before they succeed.

However, that doesn’t mean every loss, like Saturday’s 5-0 shutout to Vicksburg is without meaning.

&uot;I’m proud of the way the guys fought out there,&uot; said Hogue, who is in his fourth game as coach after the previous one quit unexpectedly. &uot;They never gave up. This is a tenacious group of guys.&uot;

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The Gators got a hat trick from senior Jeremy Johnson in the win.

Natchez had few shots on goal and when they did Vicksburg keeper Eric Holland was there for five saves.

&uot;It’s good to get a district win,&uot; Gators head coach Drew Kennedy said. &uot;Both teams played hard. Jeremy is a fast kid with a good left foot.&uot;

Johnson wasted no time in acquiring his trio of goals. In the fourth minute of the second half, Johnson picked up a loose ball and fired one at Bulldog keeper Aaron Ratliff.

Ratliff got a paw on it, but the force of the shot carried the ball into the net.

Ratliff was in goal after Lamar O’Neal manned the position in the first half.

It’s all a part of Hogue continuing to learn his personnel he said.

&uot;You learn a lot on those bus rides when we have away games,&uot; he said. &uot;I’m learning things now so I can adjust them on the field. Once we get some field synchronicity we’ll start coming together.&uot;

Vicksburg was obviously the better skilled team, but their attitudes got them in trouble throughout.

Several players received yellow cards and one Russell Morrison argued so much that the official tagged him with a red card.

Morrison was kicked out with the red card and will have to miss the Gators next game.

&uot;Once the ref makes a call, there’ no point in trying to battle,&uot; Hogue said. &uot;I didn’t have to tell our guys that. They’re not a bunch of smart alecks.&uot;

Morrison was integral in helping to build the early Vicksburg lead.

Johnson headed Morrison’s throw-in into the net for the second goal and Johnson’s second of the game in the ninth minute.

It was Johnson’s second goal in the first 10 minutes of the game.

Hogue said he didn’t even know how good O’Neal was in the field until saw him fooling around at practice the other day.

&uot;And in a game like today that was against a very physical team it was good to have Lamar playing up,&uot; Hogue said. &uot;I didn’t know he could move like that.&uot;

Despite the loss, Hogue feels he and his players are maturing and growing in their confidence level each game.

&uot;I saw tons of improvement out there today,&uot; he said. &uot;We moved the ball well, passed looking for the open man and they were having more fun.

&uot;They really felt like they were prepared today. Now it’s just a matter of repetition.&uot;

There was no girls’ game Saturday due to Vicksburg’s team participating in a tournament.

The two teams will get together at Natchez next Saturday.

Natchez’s two squads next games are Tuesday at Franklin County.