MHSAA: Cathedral needs win Friday; Franklin can clinch region title

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 31, 2003

After allowing 60 points Friday night, Cathedral is hoping its defensive problems may finally be solved.

True story.

The Green Wave defense made some adjustments late in that bizarre 73-60 outcome, and it worked in coming up with big stops late in the game. A better defense would surely be welcomed right now, especially with the Region 4-1A playoff picture taking shape.

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The Green Wave (4-2, 5-2) hosts Salem at 7:30 p.m. Friday as MHSAA action enters Week 9.

&uot;We tried some new things, and hopefully that will help us out,&uot; Cathedral head coach Ken Beesley Sr. said. &uot;We’ll sub more, and we figure we’ll have to stunt more. We’re not big, so we’ll try to put some quick people on the line and shoot the gaps. We moved some smaller guys up on the line, and they’re able to shoot the gaps.&uot;

Changes in the front line helped the Green Wave get the stops late in the game after Stringer running back Tipston Garner rushed for 320 yards. Add to that Cathedral’s size disadvantage with most clubs and a numbers disadvantage, and that’s why teams who have beat Cathedral have ran the ball effectively, particularly in the second half.

But now that the two bigger teams are out of the way &045; namely Mize and Mount Olive &045; the Green Wave can concentrate on finishing the season strong and making a run at the playoffs. The Wave currently sits in fourth place in the region, and third-place Bogue Chitto faces Mount Olive Friday.

But Salem is the first order of business, and a loss would hurt the Wave’s postseason chances.

&uot;We usually have a pretty good game with them every year,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;We match up real well. They’re 3-3, but if they beat us Friday they’ll be ahead of us in the region. It’s an important game, and we’ve been trying to stress that to the kids. It’s homecoming week, and they’ll have other things on their minds. Two years ago they came in here and I thought we had the best team, and they beat us 14-12.&uot;

The Wildcats (3-3, 3-4) enter the contest needing a win to stay in the hunt for the playoffs, and they’ll try to bring it up the middle with a ground attack like most other teams in the region. They come in after losing to Bogue Chitto last week, 38-8, in a contest that sacked their hopes for the playoffs somewhat.

The Wildcats have split their last four games &045; 30-20 win over Enterprise, 38-20 loss to St. Aloysius and a 33-18 win over West Lincoln before last week’s loss.

&uot;They like to run their tailback off the tackle and try the sweep,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;They’ve got one pretty good receiver they throw to. The tailback is probably 170-175 pounds and a good back, but he’s not a Garner or (Jasper) Ducksworth. He’s more of a straight-ahead type back. He’s hard runner, but he’s not going to run around you or fake you out like the other two.&uot;

Franklin County at Amite County

As things continue to go well for the much-improved Bulldogs, no one really had an idea back in August of what position they’d be in here in Week 9.

A win Friday over a tough Amite County team would give the Bulldogs the Region 7-3A championship.

&uot;We didn’t anticipate this at all,&uot; FC head coach Anthony Hart said. &uot;It has (been a surprise). We’re excited about it. We’ve just got to win, but they’re good. We’ll have to play well to compete.&uot;

The Bulldogs have surprised plenty of folks by sitting in position to claim the title and host a first-round playoff game, but it’s easier said than done against a Trojans team that’s reeling a bit after last week’s loss to Wilkinson County.

The Trojans would have come into the contest with a full head of steam had they not dropped the contest to Wilkinson County for their second loss of the season. They knocked off Jefferson County and Port Gibson earlier and sure could use a win Friday.

&uot;I think Amite has as good a personnel as anyone in our region,&uot; Hart said. &uot;They’ve played some good people. They lost to Grenada, Tylertown and Kentwood (La.). They’re going to throw the ball and run the option. They do a lot of formations, and that’s hard to prepare for. They have a whole lot of speed. Hazlehurst beat them 8-6, and Hazlehurst is as fast as lightning.&uot;

Jefferson County at Hazlehurst

The Tigers step back into region play against the team that was favored to win the crown, but the Indians have had a tougher time through the region and are hoping to clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win.

The Tigers, too, have playoffs on their minds sitting at 2-2 in region with next week’s game against Port Gibson completing the schedule.

&uot;It’s real important to get this win,&uot; JC head coach Jeffrey Harness said. &uot;If we win, we have a pretty good chance. We’re working toward that goal and have that in our minds. The playoffs is our goal. We have a tough district, and all the teams are pretty good.&uot;

The Tigers used a huge 18-17 comeback win over North Pike two weeks ago to stay in the hunt for the postseason after losing games to Franklin County and Amite County. This week the Tigers at least like their matchups against the Indians, a team that has plenty of speed at the skill positions.

Jefferson County has speed, too, and it may come down to who limits the big plays.

&uot;They have a real good running game,&uot; Harness said. &uot;Our focus is on stopping the running attack. They have three good guys that can run the football. Our defensive line is going to have to have a good night in order for us to be successful. &uot;

Natchez at Northwest Rankin

The Bulldogs have a tough task in heading into Brandon in search of their first Region 4-5A win and a stop to their four-game losing skid.

The Bulldogs have lost their last four games by a combined score of 186-28 and have yielded a region-worst 273 points on the season.

North Pike at Port Gibson

The Blue Waves may not be out of the playoff picture, but they surely need a win Friday and some help to crack into the top four spots in Region 7-3A. The Blue Waves (0-4, 1-7) dropped a 42-20 decision to Franklin County last week.

They haven’t won since a Week 1 win over Class 5A Natchez.