What a Friday: Plenty of big plays, big stops

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Late in the third quarter it appeared as though Trinity Episcopal’s defense was about to yield its first points of the season.

Through nine quarters (a shutout of Chamberlain-Hunt, a 57-0 drubbing of Plain Dealing that was called off in the third and a 28-0 halftime lead over Claiborne) the Saints defense had been an immovable object.

But suddenly mental lapses on costly penalties caused them to begin to wilt against the Rebels.

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&uot;We did a couple of stupid things that we can’t have if we want to win state again,&uot; cornerback Gregory Ketchings said.

However on fourth and goal from the 13, Alex Allain provided a bull rush up the gut, forcing Rebel quarterback Hunter Heckel into an incompletion in the end zone.

The streak is still alive. After Chase Brown tacked on Trinity’s last touchdown, Claiborne had one last shot to ruin the shutout.

With Rebel fans yelling, &uot;Go! Go! Go!&uot; harmoniously, Claiborne pressed inside the Trinity red zone, all the way to the 5-yard line when Heckel connected on a 33-yard completion to Trae Milan.

But there was that man Allain again on the very next play, stripping the ball from Dusty Cella’s grasp and falling on it to preserve Claiborne’s goose egg.

&uot;Our defense played so well for us,&uot; King said. &uot;The main issue is we have depth. We always have fresh guys, who are very competitive and do well for us.&uot;

WHICH WAY TO GO? &045; There was a quarterback controversy brewing among the Madison St. Joseph Bruins, and Friday’s loss to Cathedral didn’t clear things up too much.

Part of the reason was the Green Wave defense did a good job containing Reggie Hicks, the 6-2, 225-pound sophomore who came in relief of 5-10, 150-pound sophomore Joseph Shirley.

Hicks was athletic and a threat on the option, but his biggest gain was 12 yards while playing rougly two quarters.

&uot;We didn’t start Reggie for discipline problems,&uot; St. Joe head coach Eric Guerrero said.&160;&uot;We went with Joe. Joe is going to be there. We may go to that two-quarterback system. We’ve got to rotate both of them to do a little bit of both. When they see Joseph in there, they know it’s going to be a pass. When they see Reggie in there, they know it’s going to be a run.&uot;

The Green Wave did well containing Hicks after he came in for the Bruins’ third drive of the game. Their best drive ended at the Cathedral 39 when the clock ran out in the first half, and another drive ended past midfield when Cathedral defensive end Eric Lee recovered a fumble.

&uot;He was the guy we were expecting to start,&uot; Cathedral head coach Ken Beesley said of Hicks. &uot;The big thing we were concerned with was letting him get outside. If we kept him in the pocket, we could stop him. When he went outside, we kind of gang-tackled him,. We’re not big on defense, so we’ll have to gang-tackle like we did tonight.&uot;

BIG PLAYS &045; It was the true test of Cathedral’s new offense. Twice it was in a tight spot Friday night in fourth-and-long situations, and both were in locations too short to punt but too long for kicker John Paul Kenda.

So the Wave stuck with what it’s trying to do this year &045; go to the pass. On a fourth and 11 at the St. Joe 33, Turner Smith hit Michael Blain for a 12-yards pass for a first down.

The biggest, though, came on fourth and 12 at the St. Joe 22 when Smith hit Blain again for a 21-yard pass. This time Blain was on an out route, and he quickly got two feet down before getting out of bounds just oustide the end zone.

INJURY REPORT &045; Michael Williams started at quarterback in the spring for Natchez High, but an injury to his hand has kept him out in favor of Riley Trask so far.

Williams, who injured his hand while working a job with his father just before fall camp, has played in the secondary for the Bulldogs but hasn’t taken a snap. How long he’ll be an exclusive DB remains to be seen.

&uot;He’ll be out for a period of time due to the fact we’re playing him in the secondary right now,&uot; NHS head coach James Denson said.&160;&uot;His hand is not strong enough to handle the center-quarterback exchange. He’s still not full recovered to where he can grip the football.&uot;

Adam Daigle

contributed to this report.