Bulldogs stay focused despite Saturday struggles at jamboree

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2003

SUMMIT &045; Give those Natchez High Bulldogs credit. They’re still chugging along.

Wins haven’t come often in the last two years, and thunderstorms threatened to send everyone home Saturday at the Coca-Cola Jamboree at Southwest Mississippi Community College.

But the Bulldogs stuck with it, battled Brookhaven and Lawrence County and wrapped up spring feeling better about themselves before taking a break for finals and resuming conditioning drills for the summer.

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Natchez lost to Brookhaven 26-8 and Lawrence County 21-0.

&uot;I felt like we accomplished a lot this spring,&uot; Natchez head coach James Denson said. &uot;Of course, it might not have shown out there, but we accomplished a lot as far as mental attitude. We got a lot of commitment from our kids during the off-season. We’ll just have to continue on what we need to do in order to be successful. We’ve got to develop some heart.&uot;

The team used the scrimmage to give the new units a chance to work out under live conditions, going three 12-play possessions against both teams Saturday. The big question mark is the quarterback slot after losing Leon Stewart to graduation.

Saturday the Bulldogs went with all three quarterbacks &045; Michael Williams, Riley Trask and Frankie Williams in that order &045; to see who came up with the biggest spark on an offense that struggled most of last season.

Michael Williams had the best showing as his 3-yard touchdown run against Brookhaven &045; after a 59-minute rain delay &045; was the Bulldogs’ only score of the afternoon.

He had a long run on the same drive down into Brookhaven territory, but the play was negated on a clip. The conditions kept the passing game to a minimum for everyone.

&uot;We went into the spring and didn’t have a quarterback,&uot; Denson said. &uot;We’re trying those three guys right there and trying to find one that gives us the best chance of winning. Michael is a good athlete but is still learning things that go along with being a quarterback. He’s got to learn things on the run.&uot;

The Bulldogs went with DeMarcus Christmas with the running game in the first unit, while Trask and Frankie Williams threw the ball more. The Bulldogs’ offensive line &045; with plenty of size &045; had problems early but jelled as the workout went along.

&uot;Believe it or not, this last group we had out there were ninth-graders,&uot; Denson said. &uot;A lot of times you’ve got experienced people, but they don’t get the job done. We’ll continue to work and find people to fill the holes to get the program back up and running. We’ve got good size on the whole line, but it’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of the fight in the dog.&uot;

Both Brookhaven and Lawrence County used the pass to score on Natchez, while the Panthers scored twice on their first 12-play possession for a 13-0 lead. Brookhaven threw a touchdown for a 20-0 lead and later added a 3-yard run for a score.

Lawrence County got a 3-yard run on its first possession but had trouble until later on its second possession when it broke a 40-yard run up the middle for a touchdown. On the same possession it connected on a 27-yard touchdown pass for a score.

&uot;The biggest problem we have right now is our linebackers,&uot; Denson said. &uot;We’ve got to continue to find some to fill those spots. As far as our defensive line, they’re like the Dow Jones &045; they’re up and down. We’ve got to get that consistency.&uot;