Published 12:00 am Friday, October 31, 2003

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NATCHEZ &045; That bubbling noise reverberating in the minds, off the walls of the locker room and between the ear holes of Cathedral players’ green helmets would be pressure boiling to a scalding touch.

For yet another year, the Green Wave’s postseason fate will come down to the last two weeks of the regular season.

With a win at Region 4-1A’s second place team Bogue Chitto (7-2, 6-1) Friday, Cathedral (6-2, 5-2) could clinch its first playoff berth since 1998.

&uot;We’ve worked the whole season to put ourselves in this position to make the playoffs,&uot; Green Wave head coach Ken Beesley Sr. said. &uot;We’re there, now let’s go out there and get the job done.&uot;

Admittedly, current Cathedral players will tell you they deserved a pink slip after sleeping on the job prevented the taste of a postseason bonus last season.

The Green Wave stood 5-2 &045; their current region record, coincidentally &045; in 4-1A heading into a homecoming matchup with the same, but all together different, Bogue Chitto team.

Made up of two seniors the Bobcats cashed in early in the first quarter with touchdowns off a Cathedral muffed punt and a recovered onsides kick to stake a lead they never relinquished, winning 14-13.

&uot;I remember that loss messed us up for the playoffs last year,&uot; said Wave running back Jonathan Jackson, who totaled 129 yards receiving in last Friday’s 31-15 home victory over Salem. &uot;We just want to go over there, get the win and get it over with. It’d be neat to have a home (playoff) game with the fans supporting us.&uot;

A week later Beesley’s boys, still controlling their own destiny to the dance, could not bounce back and lost to bitter rival St Aloysius in Vicksburg 21-12.

While both of those losses, in addition to the four-year stretch of late season shortcomings surely serve as an impetus, Beesley believes the outlook is different for one reason alone.

&uot;I’m sure it left a little bitterness in their mouths, but I think they’re just focused,&uot; he said. &uot;Last year we had a lot of activities surrounding the game, including homecoming. That’s not the situation this year.&uot;

The shoe is on the other foot, as well. As opposed to the 2002 Bobcat campaign where they finished below .500 in both region and overall, Bogue Chitto is almost certainly the favorite, especially after taking down Mount Olive last Friday, 32-21.

Apparently, there is something in the water across I-55. The young men who take their posts on the Bobcats’ front lines didn’t miss too many meals.

&uot;They’ve got some big boys up there,&uot; tackle Eric Byrne said. &uot;Our offensive line is going to have to stay low and stick with their blocks because they have a couple 300 pounders up there.&uot;

Which makes it all the more paramount that Cathedral can find a way to get on top of the Bobcats early.

Beesley believes the only way to counteract Bogue Chitto’s size is playing ball control, something a traditionally powerful running Green Wave offense could handle.

But remember, new offensive coordinator Bert Smith has revamped Cathedral into an air attack, as evident by quarterback Turner Smith’s 330 yards on 29 completions out of 33 attempts last Friday.

&uot;It was pretty much a lot of screens, and letting the receivers run with it after they caught it,&uot; Smith said of his career night. &uot;There wasn’t much throwing down field.&uot;

But with defenses in a perpetual state of motion to halt the Green Wave’s potent attack, it could be 180-degrees different, which is no skin off Beesley’s back.

&uot;(Smith is) capable of throwing the ball medium of long range. (Salem) played us deep last week, that’s why everything was open short,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s hard to know what defense everybody is going to play against us. Everybody has a different idea on how to try to stop us.&uot;

The same could be said for the Bobcats’ volatile ground game led by backs Rico Lewis and Deonta Thompson, along with multiple-threat quarterback Michael Blackwell.

The trio accounted for three of Bogue Chitto’s five touchdowns and, behind that aforementioned Mack truck of a line, were able to milk precious seconds off the clock in last Friday’s win.

&uot;We don’t want to get into a situation where they start running the ball right at us, where they get four yards every play and control the clock,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;We’ve got to be able to put them in situations where they must do something they don’t normally do.&uot;

A scenario exists where if Cathedral defeated the Bobcats by nine or more points, and went on to down St. Al, the Green Wave will finish second behind Mize and therefore, host a first-round playoff matchup.

All Beesley is concerned with, however, is the ‘W.’ The heat to get there is enough to make you sweat.

&uot;We’ll make sure our kids come out ready to play, and not let Bogue Chitto dictate the pace,&uot; he said. &uot;The pressure is on (the Bobcats) to stay in second place, and the pressure is on us to make the playoffs. We’d like to settle that this week.&uot;