Natchez falls to Wilkinson, Jefferson in jamboree bouts

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 5, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; Everyone else came fully dressed out in their regular uniforms, but the Natchez High Bulldogs stayed in their practice jerseys.

And they had a good reason why.

The new coaching staff with the Bulldogs are still in teaching mode, and the Natchez High jamboree was nothing more than a revved-up practice. The Bulldogs dropped a 17-0 decision to Wilkinson County in their first session and fell to Jefferson County 8-0 in the final session, but it was nothing that officially counted.

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The Bulldogs are taking solace in the fact that the real thing starts next week at home against Port Gibson.

&uot;We had a good idea of where we were and what we were good at,&uot; NHS head coach Lance Reed said. &uot;It pretty much showed. There are some things we need to work on. This was a great opportunity to work on our mistakes instead of the first game. We’ll come out a little more relaxed and ready to execute.&uot;

The Bulldogs had their moments in their second session against Jefferson County after struggling more against a good Wilkinson team in the first round.

Both teams, however, moved the ball on the ground against Natchez High, and they both combined to finish five drives with touchdown, touchdown, field goal, fumble and touchdown.

The Tigers kept it on the ground against Natchez after using quarterback Trevor Malone for a number of passes in their first session against Hinds AHS.

The Tigers had just one possession against the Bulldogs but drove it in for a touchdown.

&uot;We did a good job in spots,&uot; Jefferson County head coach Jeffrey Harness said.

&uot;We need to do a better job of pass protection. We’ve got to get some more conditioning. That’s the way we had it planned &045; we wanted to see how we would do with the pass (early).

&uot;We’ve got to get in better shape, come back and work hard if we expect to do anything.&uot;

The Tigers’ only drive of the final session was an impressive one thanks to a solid running game.

They took over at their own 26 after stopping the Bulldogs deep and put together 10 plays to get into the end zone.

Avery Hammett’s 14-yard run got the Tigers down to the NHS 20, and Malone’s 12-yard pass to Havard set up Hammett’s 2-yard run for a touchdown for the 8-0 lead with 1:16 left.

&uot;We’ve got to get better,&uot; Reed said. &uot;That was the goal of coming out here tonight. That’s’ why we wanted to come out there and do this. We’ve got to watch the film and get ready for next week, and we’re staying positive. We’re trying to get it fixed for next week.&uot;

The Bulldogs moved the ball better against the Tigers than in the first session and got it down to the 1-yard line before coming up empty.

Quarterback Riley Trask hit Dekeedrian Jackson on a 45-yard pass to get down to the Jefferson 12, but a personal foul call later moved them back to the 25.

Trask then hit Rodney Gray on a 24-yard pass to get down to the 1 for a first down, but then the wheels came off in the Bulldogs’ shotgun formation.

Two straight snaps got by Trask &045; losses of 7 and 17 yards &045; and Trask threw two incompletions to turn it over on downs.

&uot;We’ve got to be mentally tough,&uot; Reed said. &uot;We got to the 1, and you’ve got to punch it in. Today was a learning experience. We needed it, and we got better.&uot;

The story of the jamboree, however, may have been the Wildcats and their power running game.

Wilkinson County used the backfield tandem of Alvin Fosselman and LaKendrick Russ along with a strong front line to move the ball well on both Natchez High and Hinds.

Against Hinds the Wildcats didn’t have to go far. A blocked punt that went straight up in the air came down at the Hinds 23, and an offsides penalty later the Wildcats scored on an 18-yard TD run from Fosselman.

The Wildcats then punted on their next drive and surrendered what was a 62-yard touchdown return from Anthony Mayes, but it got wiped off due to a clip.

Corey Dunbar then recovered a fumble at midfield, and the Wildcats needed six plays to punch it in. Fosselman finished it with a 1-yard run with 1:16 left for a 14-7 lead.

&uot;It’s kind of hard to say,&uot; WC head coach John Moore said of the evening. &uot;The offense did do a good job of running the ball. I don’t think we punted but one time. I don’t know if that’s attributed to a good offense or bad defense. We’ve still got a lot of work to do. The offensive line was doing a pretty decent job.&uot;