Heidelberg’s defense caused problems for Saints

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003

CLINTON &045; Fifty percent of the time during the 2003 season, Trinity Episcopal delivered a goose egg to its opponent side of the scoreboard.

Seven shutouts and only twice did a team score 20 points on the Saints, a feat only occurring during the postseason.

With bolts of lightning at virtually all the skill positions no team could match up with Trinity’s V-8 engine.

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That’s until Thursday’s Mississippi Private School Association Class A state championship game on the campus of Mississippi College.

Heidelberg’s defense was in the Saints backfield throughout the afternoon, causing problems for Trinity quarterback Ryan Rachal’s throwing and Gregory and Walt Ketchings’ ability to find holes to run through in a 19-14 Rebel victory.

&uot;We did get underestimated because we were supposed to be the slowest team in the playoffs,&uot; said Heidelberg end Matthew Andrews, who finished with 10 tackles, three of which were sacks. &uot;Coach (Tom) Lewis put together a great plan. When the quarterback holds the ball for five seconds, you can bet we’re going to be on him.&uot;

Even on the Saints’ final drive, resulting in an acrobatic 44-yard touchdown catch-and-run by receiver Dudley Guice Jr., Rachal was chased relentlessly from the pocket and sacked twice by Andrews.

The speed up front from Andrews, J.R. Stephenson, Ryan Aultman and others was a main reason the Rebels’ decision to double-up on Guice made them look like five-star generals.

Safety Dusty Bass and cornerback Ian Sharp were handed the responsibilities of guarding Guice, a verbal commitment to Mississippi State.

&uot;We told (Bass and Sharp), ‘You take him short, you deep.’ When you take two of your guys out of the game plan, that’s tough on the rest of the defense,&uot; Lewis said. &uot;You’ve got to give the other nine credit.&uot;

Despite two times that resulted in Trinity’s only points of the game, the blue prints worked, as Bass came away with two interceptions and Guice was virtually unheard of between the game’s opening touchdown catch and the last.

&uot;We had been hearing that (Guice) was a pretty good Division-I prospect,&uot; Bass said. &uot;He was a real good receiver. His height, his jumping ability &045; it was scary out there sometimes. We tried to make them pass to some of the others to beat us.

&uot;We had total confidence in our line. We were hoping we could shut (Guice) down, and we practically did.&uot;

Guice finished with five receptions for 121 yards, with 100 of that coming on the two touchdowns he raced in.

Heidelberg’s clinching drive told the story. Bass’ second pick of the game close to his own end zone led to an 11-play drive that consisted strictly of keeping the ball on the ground.

Rebel back Brent Welch, who finished with 16 carries for 96 yards, had back-to-back first down runs of 28 and 22 yards, respectively.

&uot;I’m not trying to blame anybody, but I guess (the line) might’ve been a little drained,&uot; said Saint cornerback Gregory Ketchings, who had four tackles. &uot;We thought we were going to have more time, but it didn’t happen. You can’t dwell on it though.&uot;

The Rebels’ quickness also came into play on two blocked punts, where Heidelberg was either able to shoot the gap and rush a Rachal effort or come around the end and stuff it, as Matthews did on the second block.

&uot;I had a lucky break on that,&uot; Matthews said. &uot;I came around and the ball hit me square in the facemask. I was like, ‘OK, where’s the ball.’&uot;

Linebackers Ivan Nastally and Joey Wilson led Trinity’s defense with nine tackles apiece.