Tigers host No. 3 Tylertown with momentum

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 31, 2003

FAYETTE &045; Like those meaningful memories you cherish from your childhood, Jefferson County head coach Jeffrey Harness gets all tingly inside when he looks back on last Friday.

Trailing 17-0 heading into the fourth quarter at North Pike, their playoff hopes and dreams slipping away, the Tigers (5-2, 2-2) roared back with 18 unanswered points to win by a point and stay 1 1/2 games behind Franklin County in Region 7-3A play.

&uot;I still get flashbacks to last Friday,&uot; said Harness, who has the Tigers three games over .500 after a 2-7 finish in his first season. &uot;The defense played an excellent game. Everybody kept fighting for us. I think the boys learned a lot about themselves Friday. Hopefully that will carry over to this Friday.&uot;

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Now comes an even more daunting task, albeit a non-region contest, with Class 3A’s No. 3 Tylertown (7-0) visiting Fayette today at 7:30 p.m.

Despite squeaking by a mediocre Purvis (2-5) team last Friday, 14-13, the Chiefs are not to be taken as overrated.

Tylertown is a bully on both sides of the ball, scoring the second most points (241) of all of the 52 teams

in 3A and yielding the third fewest (64).

&uot;Tylertown is a good team, but I think &045; from looking at the way some of our district teams matched up with them &045; we can stack up pretty well,&uot; Harness said. &uot;We know they’re good, but we’re not going to let a record dictate the course of the game.&uot;

The Chiefs have played three of Jefferson County’s 7-3A foes &045; Amite County, Port Gibson and North Pike &045; defeating them by a combined 119-39 total.

Harness believes this week’s matchup will serve as a litmus test as the Tigers enter the final two weeks of the season and close in on a possible playoff berth.

&uot;We can’t afford to start slow like we did last week,&uot; he said. &uot;If we can start with a lot of intensity, it should be a pretty good game.&uot;

Jefferson County closes with a road contest against second place Hazlehurst Oct. 24, which is a half game behind Franklin County for first, and hosting slumping Port Gibson on Halloween night.

Harness said his ball club has had its time to enjoy last Friday’s miracle, and it’s now time to go toe-to-toe with one of the state’s elite.

&uot;We’ve got to go into each ball game in a disciplined and focused way,&uot; he said. &uot;We can’t let our confidence overcome our clarity. If we stay at that level we’ll be OK.&uot;

Cathedral at Stringer

STRINGER &045; With opponents’ defenses in a perpetual state of motion every Friday, Cathedral’s offense is left to practice the Air Wave offense throughout the week, and make the adjustments once the ball is put in the air for the opening kickoff.

Green Wave (4-2, 3-2 Region 4-1A) head coach Ken Beesley said his staff and team have watched film on the Stringer (3-3, 3-2) defense, but the means do not necessarily merit the ends.

&uot;Since nobody runs our offense, (teams) come up with new defenses every week,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;We’ll try to adjust to whatever they’re playing.&uot;

Expect a playoff atmosphere at the Red Devils’ home at 7:30 p.m. Friday, as both teams are fighting for their respective lives in a three-way tie for third along with Salem.

Both Mize and Mount Olive sit comfortably on the region throne, with unblemished 5-0 marks in 4-1A. For now.

That all changes as the two teams wage war Friday as well.

&uot;We try to stress to them that each game has a big role in whether we make the playoffs or not,&uot; Beesley said of his Wave. &uot;We can’t afford to let anyone sneak in on us.&uot;

Someone whose reputation precedes himself, and, therefore, will be doing no tiptoeing on the Cathedral defense is Stringer tailback Tipston Garner.

Beesley believes Garner is possibly a better back than Mize’s Jasper Ducksworth, who torched the Green Wave for 221 yards rushing in Cathedral’s first loss of the year, 28-14, Sept. 26.

&uot;He’s definitely the best, quickest running back in our district,&uot; Beesely said of Garner. &uot;He’s got big play potential every time he touches the football. He likes to hit you off tackle. We’ve got to try to force him back to the middle and not let him get outside.&uot;

He said the Red Devils like to split Garner out as a receiver, in addition to his carrying the brunt of the ground load, where he is also a serious threat.

The Green Wave defense, which has had its problems this year wrapping up skill menaces, has worked overtime this week in preparation for the elusive Garner.

&uot;Since we’re so small we tend to come up to quick and don’t break down to be in the position to make the tackle,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;Or will be going hard, and a guy will make a move and fake us out.&uot;

Beesley hopes it Friday won’t be a shootout, such as the West Lincoln 56-34 affair several weeks ago, but he knows the outcome depends on his offense’s successes.

&uot;The key to it will be if we continue to execute like we did last week with our offense, we’ll be able to use that against (Stringer),&uot; he said. &uot;They don’t have as good a defense as Mize or Mount Olive.&uot;

Wilkinson County at Amite County

WOODVILLE &045; That hill Wildcat players reluctantly trudge up every day at practice, has unfortunately become symbolic of Wilkinson County’s playoff chances.

Sitting one game from the cellar in Region 7-3A, the Wildcats (3-4, 1-3) seemingly need to scale Everest to make it to the postseason.

The journey begins in Liberty at bitter rival Amite County (2-4, 2-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

&uot;Honestly, when these two lock up, it’s a war,&uot; Trojans head coach Elbert &uot;Mo&uot; Lyles said. &uot;It’s not about the records. It’s about bragging rights. At the same time, it’s a big district game. They want it, and we want it, too. I guess we’ll settle it on the field.&uot;

&uot;If we can beat them, then we’ll have the same record as they will (in region play) with one game left in our season,&uot; Wilkinson head coach John Moore said. &uot;That’s why it’s so important to us.&uot;

Amite is coming off a 26-6 loss to Louisiana Class 1A power Kentwood last Friday, while the Wildcats found a little life in a 41-22 drubbing of Port Gibson.

Moore said a combination of youth and the injury bug has plagued his team in close games this season; however, he has seen dramatic improvement with the win over the Blue Waves and a close matchup with second-place Hazlehurst the week prior.

&uot;We’ve played pretty decent the last two weeks,&uot; Moore said. &uot;We had an opportunity to beat Hazelhurst in double overtime, but didn’t. We still played well, and hopefully that’ll carry over to this week also.&uot;

Trojan starting defensive tackle/center Tommy Lee sat out the Kentwood game with a knee injury, but Lyles expects him back for Friday.

Hancock at Natchez

NATCHEZ &045; Region 3-5A’s bottom feeders square off at Tom Williams Memorial Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The Bulldogs (1-6, 0-3) have scored the fewest points (54) of all Class 5A’s 32 teams, while given up the most (247).

Natchez has not won a game since a 14-12 upset of Vicksburg Sept. 12.

The Hawks (3-4, 0-3), after starting the season 3-1, have dropped their last three contests by a combined 100-21 count, including last Friday’s 24-6 loss to Northwest Rankin.

Port Gibson at Franklin County

MEADVILLE &045; A tale of two teams headed in opposite directions.

With a huge 29-16 upset of Hazlehurst last Friday, the Bulldogs (5-2, 3-0) moved to the top of the Region 7-3A food chain, and now control their own playoff destiny with their final three games coming against teams with a 2-7 7-3A record.

Meanwhile, the Blue Waves (1-6, 0-3) are winless since a 14-13 defeat of Natchez to open the regular season.