Rebels face CPS in tough test; Hounds trying to find groove

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; There’s still a sore spot in their gut from the loss to Central Private last season.

It’s not, however, anything personal. It was bad enough the Adams Christian Rebels lost a heartbreaker in overtime to Central Private last season, but when everything was tallied at the end of the season it was that loss that haunted the Rebels more than anything.

That &045; as coaches and players kept repeating during two-a-days &045; one loss kept the Rebels out of the postseason.

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&uot;We’re just trying to get focused and ready to play,&uot; junior quarterback Dustin Case said. &uot;They ended up beating us by a few points, and everybody wasn’t happy about it. This time we’re looking to win our first district game to get ahead of everybody else.&uot;

It was an 18-15 loss in Natchez that helped Central Private jockey for position late in the season in the four-team Division II District 3-AAA race. It was a loss that haunted Adams Christian more and more after it pulled surprising wins over Lamar and Hillcrest.

So now there’s still a four-team race but everyone’s even at 0-0.

&uot;This is our first district game, and it has playoff implications,&uot; AC head coach Keith Walters said. &uot;We know that, and so does Central Private. I’d imagine it’s going to be a pretty intense affair. When you only have three district games within your own division, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out they’re all pretty important. Even I can figure that out.&uot;

What’s got the Adams Christian Rebels a little fired up is their defense has shown signs of improvement over last season’s efforts, which was perhaps their biggest weakness overall. Up against a Washington School team that posted a 47-2 win last season, the Rebels had a chance to tie it up late before dropping a 28-14 loss to the Generals.

And while star running back Kevin Johnson tagged 276 yards rushing on the Rebels, at times they bottled him up well.

&uot;You take his yards, and 160 of them came on two plays,&uot; Walters said. &uot;The other 30 plays we did OK. We’re still not there yet, but I did see some improvement. We were physical and tackled a little bit better.&uot;

Said Case: &uot;We’re getting better. We’re doing different stuff in different situations, and it’s working out a lot better. Everybody is getting in and understanding what they are supposed to do in their place now.&uot;

The defense won’t get as tested this week against Central Private, although the CP Rebels will still keep it on the ground to move the football. It’s a tactic Adams Christian has used at times this year and were victimized by last year against CPS &045; facing a run-oriented attack that chews up the clock.

&uot;They’re an I-formation team and are very similar to what we do,&uot; Walters said. &uot;They throw it some. The time of possession was I think the key factor to last year. They did a really good job of keeping the ball. We moved it fairly well, but we never had it, especially in the second half.&uot;

Last year running back Chris Willard ran for about 100 yards on the Rebels, but he’s about the only key starter that’s gone from that unit. This year Central relies on quarterback Brandon Billings (5-11, 165) to hand off to either junior Ken Dunham (6-1, 190) or fullback Jordan Heck.

&uot;They’ve got 10 offensive starters back,&uot; Walters said. &uot;They’ve got good size and are well-coached. Dunham is a big strong guy and has quick feet. He runs hard, and Heck is a good football player. We’re very much alike. It’s eerie almost. If the weather is good, it’ll boil down to the kicking game and turnovers. I think we’re very evenly matched.&uot;

CM&I at Huntington

FERRIDAY, La. &045; University Christian School exposed what’s been nagging at the Hounds coaching staff so far this season.

On defense they struggled for the second straight week, and for the second straight week that gave head coach Hugh Hathcock a headache. That’s 80 points the Hounds have yielded in two games, and it’s about time for that to stop.

&uot;They were better than I thought they were, but we didn’t play up to what I thought we would play up to,&uot; Hathcock said. &uot;We just have not jelled yet. Hopefully we’ll do it this week. We’ve got two or three guys out, but hopefully things will work out.&uot;

The Hounds had trouble stopping the run in the 33-8 loss to the Flames, similar to what happened in their season-opening 47-14 loss to Adams Christian. This week they’ll be without the services of starters Lynn Loomis and Jordy Jones in the hopes of improving defensively against a team they shut out 43-0 last year.

&uot;Our guys are not stepping up and getting the job done,&uot; Hathcock said. &uot;We’ve been working on what we thought it was, and we’ll see if it works out this week. We’re not moving to the ball like we should and just standing around.&uot;

The Hounds will face a Crusaders team that’s more known for its accomplishments in basketball than in football. They don’t have a home field and will make a second straight visit to Ferriday Friday after the game was initially scheduled as a home game for CM&I.;

The Crusaders are 0-1 so far after dropping their season opener.