MHSAA: Cathedral has tough task in Mount Olive

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 9, 2003

As tough as things were Friday night for the Cathedral Green Wave, now it’s scheduling it has to worry about.

The schedule has the Wave playing two of the better teams in Region 4-1A on consecutive weeks, and it will regroup from last week’s 28-14 loss to highly regarded Mize to play Mount Olive on Friday night. It’s a home in a game that may go a ways in determining the playoff picture by the end of the season.

&uot;I think we’ll be ready,&uot; said CHS head coach Ken Beesley Sr., whose club dropped its first game of the season last week. &uot;We were down a little bit (Monday) and didn’t have a good practice, but you’re bound to have a bad practice every now and then. We’re starting to get back up and get focused. We’ll be playing at home, and we know how important the game is. It’s a region game, and we’ve got to try and improve each week.&uot;

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So far this week the offense has been working to find the replacement for Michael Blain, who will be out Friday night and possibly the next three games with a broken bone in his ankle. The injury came early in the game against Mize, and the Wave were forced to plug in Eric Lee and Charlie Lane &045; two players who have been used sparingly at the position &045; to fill in.

Blain’s injury also slowed things down since he was one of the top three targets in their passing game and a speedy receiver. But Mize’s defense that had eight men in pass coverage worked well, too.

&uot;Eric Lee is also our backup at running back,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;Charlie has been working there this week. Michael getting hurt really kind of hurt us a little bit. We’re going to still throw the ball. We may have to run a little more than we did the other night, but we’re still going to try to be balanced. If Mount Olive pulls eight or nine men back, we’ll just keep it on the ground and try to run it.&uot;

The biggest key for the Green Wave on Friday is to handle the Pirates’ size and ground attack on offense. The Pirates will have the size advantage on both sides of the ball, but that’s something Cathedral is getting accustomed to and know how to handle.

The Pirates had a little of both last year when they downed Cathedral after it came off that huge 11-8 upset of Mize last year.

&uot;A lot of (offensive linemen) don’t get their names in the paper, but I’ve been real pleased,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;We’re hoping they step it up a notch this week. The line is going to determine whether or not we win this week.&uot;

Natchez at Meridian

The momentum the Bulldogs had from the win over Vicksburg and a good effort in a loss to Warren Central seemed moot after last week. The Bulldogs struggled so much in a 54-0 loss at home to Picayune that many of the seniors met with the coaching staff to air out their complaints.

The loss resembled the Bulldogs’ fate prior to the win over Vicksburg when the opposition had success early and ran off with the easy win.

&uot;It seems like we’re having problems focusing,&uot; NHS head coach James Denson said. &uot;They had a good team, but we didn’t help our situation because we didn’t play well. We had three different breakdowns with our special teams. We’re just not focused. Once it gets to a certain point, they feel all is lost in that particular ball game. But as far as this week, the kids have been doing a good job. We’ve had some tremendous practices, but there’s not a carryover that’s taking place.&uot;

The Bulldogs have a chance to get back on a positive note against Meridian Friday night, especially since they’ll have fullback Terrick Smith back in the lineup after he hurt an ankle in the Warren Central game.

Meridian (3-2) opened Region 4-5A last week with a win and have used last season’s struggles to build on successes this year.

&uot;Meridian was improving when we played them last year,&uot; Denson said. &uot;They started off slow during the early part of last year, but their team hit a stride. I think they more or less carried that over to this year, and they have picked up the last couple of weeks and have a couple of wins under their belts. I think they’re vastly improved from last year.&uot;

Franklin Co. at Jefferson Co.

Saying you’re going to compete for the playoffs is one thing, but to actually take a step toward doing so is the biggest challenge. So when the Tigers went down to Woodville and posted a win over Wilkinson County, it set into motion the Tigers’

plan of proving the naysayers wrong.

&uot;It was good to get that under our belts,&uot; JC head coach Jeffrey Harness said. &uot;It was tough to lose to Amite County, but the guys responded and came through this week. I think they know that every Friday night they’ll have to come out and play. I don’t think there are any down teams in district.&uot;

The Tigers were able to minimize the mistakes they made in the loss to Amite County, and the defense rose to the occasion to take the win over the Wildcats. That same defense allowed 34 points against Amite County the previous week.

&uot;We put that in the backs of our minds,&uot; Harness said. &uot;But now we’re thinking about Franklin County and taking it one game at a time. The defense is doing an excellent job. We’ve got some key people on defense that are stepping it up when they need to. We’ve got a veteran defense, and they were very young last year. They kind of understand what we’re asking.&uot;

The defense may have to step up against Franklin County Friday night as the Bulldogs have probably been the other surprise of the region so far. A team that lost 18 seniors last year started off the region with a 14-7 win over a tough North Pike squad last week despite being held to 70 yards total offense.

&uot;Franklin County looks real good,&uot; Harness said. &uot;They’ve got a lot of momentum. They’re doing some good things over there. We’re just going to have to come out and play. They’ve got a good defensive team and good special teams. It’s a matter of executing. I know I say that all the time, but that’s my favorite word.&uot;

Amite County at Port Gibson

You might find some people feeling a little warm and fuzzy after falling to region favorite Hazlehurst 8-6 after leading most of the game. But Amite County doesn’t feel anything like that.

In fact, the Trojans are still sort of kicking themselves after having the Indians on the ropes for most of the game and missing a chance to open up Region 7-3A play at 2-0.

&uot;We’re really kind of disappointed,&uot; Amite County head coach Elbert &uot;Mo&uot; Lyles said. &uot;We were leading with 2:40 left, and they got a touchdown to win the ball game. It kind of took a lot out of us, but at the same time it gives you something to work toward. Now we’re getting ready for the next ball game and try not to make the same mistakes we made.&uot;

The Trojans sure could use a win Friday over the Blue Waves, a team that also needs a win after opening region with a loss to Hazlehurst two weeks ago. The Blue Waves dropped their bout against Hinds AHS last week in a non-regional contest and haven’t won since a season-opening 14-12 win over Natchez.

&uot;They’re good-sized, but everybody we play will be bigger than us,&uot; Lyles said. &uot;We just feel like we need to get in there and do what we need to do and not be concerned with that they do. Do what we do and do the best we can.&uot;

Wilkinson Co. at Hazlehurst

The Wildcats, searching for their first 7-3A win, have to hit the road to face the Indians after they topped Amite County last week to sit in first in the standings at 2-0.

The Wildcats have struggled offensively the last two weeks after having little problems in their first three game. Last week they scored just six points, and two weeks ago in a 21-8 loss to North Pike they had just 20 yards total offense and had the touchdown come on a kick return.

The Indians got a late score to down Amite County, 8-6.