ACCS not intimidated by defending champ Prep
Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004
NATCHEZ &045; The voltage borne during the Jackson Prep-Central Private Mississippi Private School Association Class AAA semifinal series last week could’ve lit the strip in Vegas for a week.
It was what coaches and players mean when they coin the phrase &uot;playoff atmosphere.&uot;
Prep filled two buses with fans for Thursday’s series-sweep in Baker, La.
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It was arguably the MPSA’s top two teams. Explain all of this to Adams Christian head coach Gill Morris and his players, and the Rebels will tell you Prep is in for a rude awakening.
&uot;To (Prep), they probably think last week’s series with Central Private was the state championship,&uot; said Morris, who appears in his second state final in four years at AC. &uot;Well, if Central Private wants to see another ball game, they’re gonna have to come up to Natchez or Jackson because they’re through. It might be laid back around here, but I expect us to show up and take care of business. We’re gonna battle.&uot;
He believes his troops are ready to endure the taunting Prep fans are sure to heap on the Rebels.
&uot;We’re perfectly prepared for when we make and error or strikeout, their fans will get into it,&uot; Morris said. &uot;But it won’t be the end of the world. That’s the approach that’s gotten us here. When you start pressing and your breaths get short and quick and blood’s not flowing through your body, you can’t perform.&uot;
Senior southpaw Glenn Williams gets the nod at home for the best-of-three championship series opener at 6 p.m. today.
Williams has always responded well to the MPSA’s upper echelon, especially these Patriots, which boast close friend and Ole Miss signee Jo Jo Tann.
Williams went yard four times in a game vs. Prep in Natchez last year, and nearly repeated the feat on April 16 with a pair of long balls in a 15-5 thrashing of the Patriots.
&uot;I love playing Prep. When people think of the MPSA,&uot; said Williams, who cherishes the opportunity tonight’s challenge affords him, &uot;Prep is one of those teams they talk about. I love playing teams that people think are better than us, stepping up and beating them.&uot;
AC salvaged one game of the season series between the two teams, but led 3-0 in the nightcap of a twin bill in Jackson behind the strength of Williams’ arm.
However, after allowing just one hit through four, Williams left the game due to some tightness in his lower back.
The Patriots stormed back to an 11-8 win after destroying AC in the opener 14-1.
&uot;I’m ready to pitch a whole game against them,&uot; said Williams, who welcomes the raucous Prep crowd. &uot;Nobody pays any attention to (the crowd). We’re used to that. We’ve just gotta block that out. Prep knows we can beat them. They’re the ones that should be scared.&uot;
Williams experienced some early soreness in the Game 2 loss to Hillcrest Thursday, yielding four hits during the opening two innings. However, Williams settled down, not allowing another base knock the rest of the way, but the Rebels still lost 5-3 before taking the series with a 9-3 victory in Game 3.
&uot;To go to Hillcrest and come out flat and still only get beat 5-3 shows we hung with it,&uot; said Morris, whose 2001 Rebels were swept by Indianola. &uot;We came back in that third game, swung the bats, stayed relaxed and pounded ’em.&uot;
A year ago, Prep limped during most of the regular season before turning it on toward the end and building on that momentum with a from-left-field state championship.
This year the Patriots were an odds-on favorite to repeat. At 25-8 and in the finals again, Prep’s done nothing to disappoint.
&uot;It would seem since they’re the defending state champs and the preseason No. 1 that all the pressure would be on ACCS,&uot; Morris said. &uot;Well, I see it the exact opposite. We gotta do it the hard way. To me that’s where the pressure should be. But, honestly, I don’t feel a whole lot of pressure.&uot;
Morris has kept the same laid-back attitude the Rebels (24-9) have displayed since they clinched a postseason berth late in the season.
But he’s also not immune to getting his player’s blood boiling.
&uot;I try my best to instill a little bit of hate for Prep,&uot; Morris said. &uot;There’s nothing more that I would like Thursday than to go up there and whip (Prep’s) butt and win this thing.&uot;
Williams concurs with his coach, unable to imagine a better conclusion to a storybook season.
&uot;This is the end of my career at AC,&uot; Williams said. &uot;This is it. I definitely want to go out on a good note. What better way than to help my team win a state championship.&uot;