Wide-open Wave visits Mize in key Region 4-1A matchup

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 30, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Garrett Jones remembers it like it was last night.

Cathedral had the ball late in the fourth quarter trailing powerhouse Mize 8-3, and the Wave needed a spark. Turner Smith tossed to Jeremy Davis, who found an open Jones downfield for a touchdown pass. Well, he wasn’t totally open, but a referee accidentally got in between the guy covering Jones and the ball.

Surely he’s not going to forget it. It was the only time the offense ran that double-pass play all year.

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Now it’s time to play Mize again, and you can bet the Bulldogs remember that play just as well.

&uot;All of them are going to remember that,&uot; said Jones, whose club travels to Mize Friday in the biggest game in Miss-Lou preps this week. &uot;It was a big upset. They thought they were going to come in here and beat us. It’s the biggest game of the year by far. This is the best team in the district, and we’ve been working hard all week.&uot;

The game isn’t the mismatch it appeared to be last season when the Green Wave pulled that stunning 11-8 win at D’Evereaux Stadium. The upstart Green Wave is operating out of the wide-open offensive attack and has motored through its first three games by a combined score of 127-54.

It’s a match of two unbeatens in Region 4-1A, and the winner could have a strong hold on the race for the No. 1 spot later in the year.

&uot;I picked Mize and Mount Olive to be the top two teams in the district,&uot; Cathedral head coach Ken Beesley Sr. said. &uot;If we can do well the next two weeks, I like our chances at the end of the year. I know we’re not going to come out and score more than we did the last three weeks, but I’m hoping we can break a big play every now and then. They’ve played two region games, and they’ve given up one touchdown.&uot;

But with the way the offense has moved the ball lately, the Wave may have a shot. Smith threw for six touchdowns in a 56-34 win over West Lincoln last week, and the offense is still at just one turnover for the entire season.

But that’s in the past, and Friday night is Mize &045; a team that’s much better defensively.

&uot;This is going to be tough,&uot; Smith said. &uot;The first three games we weren’t challenged as much. This week we’re going to have to play hard. We’ve got to focus a lot because they’re going to be a lot bigger and a lot faster than what we’ve played so far.&uot;

It’s the Bulldogs’ defense that is the main focus for the Green Wave this week. The size presents a problem &045; Mize has two 300-pound tackles and two 6-3 defensive ends &045; since the Green Wave doesn’t have much size to counter.

The Bulldogs struggled in their first two games in losses to Class 3A Raleigh and Class 2A Taylorsville, but they rebounded with a 28-0 win over Salem in Week 4 and a 24-8 win over Bogue Chitto last week.

&uot;Those first two games were a little bit tougher,&uot; Mize head coach Kenny Robinson said. &uot;In district we’re doing a little bit better, but we’re real young. We don’t have but four seniors on the team. We’re not quite as good as we’ve been. We had three seniors sign with junior colleges last year.&uot;

The X-factor is what they’re hoping to create in the secondary with Jones, Michael Blain and Andrew Ellard. The three &045; along with Jonathan Jackson and John Paul Kenda in the backfield &045; have been the keys to the offense with its big-play capability.

Twice already the team has netted 275 yards passing, and Jones caught four touchdown passes last week against West Lincoln.

&uot;They’re just making the plays,&uot; Smith said. &uot;They’re going hard. They play man to man, and I think our receivers can keep up with them. They’re going to have a good defensive plan to slow us down. They come at you every down. It’s huge we don’t have any (turnovers) this week. Last year nobody really gave us a chance, but this year we feel we have a better chance.&uot;

The offense has been a point of emphasis for the Bulldogs this week, and they’ve got to put pressure on Smith to keep him from being able to make solid throws out of the pocket. The Green Wave don’t have an size advantage there, either, but hope to keep its blocks up long enough to make plays.

&uot;They do so many things,&uot; Robinson said. &uot;It’s hard to defend so many things they do. They’ve got great skill people, and any one of them is a threat to score at any time. Their quarterback is doing a great job of throwing the ball right now.&uot;

Beesley, however, is concerned of the Bulldogs’ ground attack with Jasper Ducksworth leading the charge running the ball. He scored three times against Bogue Chitto, two of which were runs of more than 50 yards, and twice against Salem.

&uot;He’s not that big, but he’s got good speed and quickness,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;He’s got good vision. He’ll start left and break to his right on a lot of his runs. He’s going to be hard to tackle. We’re going to have to make sure we surround him and gang-tackle him because he’ll make that first tackler miss.&uot;