Key Cathedral players nursing injuries for Friday’s playoff game at SC

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; It’s still sort of a sore subject to talk about. But at least Cathedral’s Green Wave is just turning it into a positive.

The loss to St. Aloysius last week was tough to take, and it caused the Wave to fall to the No. 4 spot in Region 4-1A instead of third or possibly second based on a tie-breaker system in the case of a victory. That is in the past, however, and the Green Wave is just using it as motivation to prepare for Scott Central Friday in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs.

It’s the first time for the Green Wave to get into the playoffs since 1998, when current Ole Miss defensive back Von Hutchins started for CHS at quarterback.

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&uot;That’s the one game you want to win all year, but we’ve got to put it behind us and get ready for Scott Central,&uot; said quarterback Turner Smith, who was in seventh grade when Hutchins and the Green Wave lost to Pelahatchie. &uot;Nothing that we did or didn’t do will help us get ready for Scott Central. We’re ready to play this week, and we’re fortunate to be where we are. We’ve got to take advantage of it. We’ve got to keep going.&uot;

It’s that resiliency that has the Green Wave remaining positive this week against a tough Scott Central team that’s one of the top teams in 1A and sporting a 9-1 record. But what’s good for the Green Wave and everyone else coming into the playoffs as a lower seed is it’s a new season with everyone at 0-0.

But the nagging thing for the Green Wave is injuries &045; Michael Blain hurt that same foot Friday night, Smith has a sore ankle, receiver Garrett Jones has a sore ankle, fullback/linebacker John Paul Kenda has a hip flexor and Zac Calhoun has a cracked bone in his hand.

&uot;They’ll all be able to play,&uot; Cathedral head coach Ken Beesley Sr. said. &uot;I don’t know if they’ll be as quick as they normally are. They’re not going to be 100 percent, but they’ll give it all they’ve got. To beat this team, we’ll have to be at the best condition. We just got beat up pretty good last week. Heading into this game and going into the playoffs, I hate to see us going in with this. We’ll have to pull together and play as hard as we’re capable of playing.&uot;

When you talk injuries with the Green Wave, it’s always a touchy subject due to its lack of numbers. Now, in a game like this, the Wave is matching up against a team that will have the upper hand in the size department, although that’s really nothing new for Cathedral at this point in the season.

What’s may give the Wave’s offensive unit problems is the Scott Central defense. Smith and the wide-open attack have hit snags recently with people learning how to defend it accordingly, and the unit has had trouble at times in recent weeks moving the football.

&uot;We’ve just got to play it to the best of our ability,&uot; Smith said. &uot;Bogue Chitto and St. Al changed their defenses from previous games from what we watched on film to blitzing a lot and trying to put pressure (on me). Everybody has been dropping back real deep and taking away the deep pass. We’ve been throwing some short screens and some little quick passes.&uot;

Smith had some success throwing the football last week against St. Al by completing 18 of 30 passes for 165 yards, although he had no touchdown passes and each catch averaged out to less than 10 yards a reception. The passing attack had similar results in the win over Bogue Chitto when Smith completed 22 of 31 passes for just 148 yards.

&uot;That’s what has happened to us in the last three or four games,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;Everybody is starting to look for our screens. They’re falling back and looking for our screens. We’ll have to do something to take advantage of it. I know they like to put pressure on the passer. I don’t know if they’re going to do that or go with their normal defense.&uot;

One thing the Wave is more sure of about Scott Central is its ability to run the football. The Rebels have pounded away on teams running the football this season, and they took a 30-14 win over South Leake last week thanks to three second-half touchdowns from Mitch Bradford.

Bradford finished the game with 178 yards on 20 carries in an offense that bases out of the wing-T.

&uot;We’re going to have to commit to the run and hope they have an off night passing the ball,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;We’ve played some teams just as big or bigger. But overall this team is bigger than any team we’ve played. What they do is basically wear you down. That’s the thing I’m concerned with &045; if we can hold up for a whole game. I know we’ll go up there and the kids will give it all they’ve got.&uot;

Said senior defensive end Eric Lee: &uot;They like to run the football in between the tackles. They’re big up front and strong. We’ve got to play together and gang-tackle. That’s what we need to do. We’ll have to plug up the holes and contain the outside.&uot;