Natchez High ready for season opener tonight against Port Gibson

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 5, 2004

The Natchez Democrat

Natchez head coach Lance Reed knows what he wants to see from his team in the Bulldogs’ season opener at 7 p.m. tonight against Port Gibson: intensity and execution.

Those were two things lacking in a mediocre performance at the Natchez High jamboree Friday in which the Bulldogs were beaten 17-0 by Wilkinson County and 8-0 by Jefferson County. And they are the two qualities Natchez will need to show tonight against Port Gibson if the Bulldogs want to win.

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&uot;I just want some intensity, for them to come out and be more aggressive on defense,&uot; Reed said.

That defensive aggressiveness could be the key to Natchez’s success throughout the season. In the jamboree, both Wilkinson County and Jefferson County moved the ball on the ground against the Bulldogs with relative ease. That will have to change if Natchez is going to have success this year.

&uot;We need more execution from our guys,&uot; Reed said. &uot;We struggled a little on that at the jamboree and it’s something we’ve been working on (in practice this week).&uot;

Reed said he expects Port Gibson to be prepared for tonight’s game and to come in a play hard against Natchez.

&uot;I know (Port Gibson) is a well-coached team. I know Coach Brown gets his guys to play hard, so I expect that,&uot; Reed said.

The game will be going on at the same time as the Trinity-Adams Christian game, but Reed said he still expects a big crowd for the home opener.

&uot;We hope (the crowd will be large). We hope the community will come out and support us,&uot; Reed said.

Franklin County

For some teams, like the Franklin County Bulldogs, the season can’t start soon enough.

&uot;We are ready. It’s time. The boys are excited,&uot; Franklin head coach Anthony Hart said. &uot;Right now it’s just fine-tuning. We’re just dress-rehearsing a couple things (in our last practice).&uot;

Fortunately for the Bulldogs, their wait is just about over. Franklin County will host Lawrence County at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the season opener for both squads.

The Bulldogs aren’t great in any one phase of the game, Hart said. But what may separate his team from its competition is a lack of weakness. Franklin County is solid in all phases of the game, a rarity among high school teams.

&uot;I think we’re balanced. We’re pretty decent on offense, on defense, on special teams. We’re decent at just about everything,&uot; Hart said.

Franklin County’s biggest liability may be its youth, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, where a number of underclassmen will start or see significant playing time.

&uot;We’re still inexperienced. We have a lot of young guys,&uot; Hart said. &uot;I’m going to start one freshman on defense and two 10th-graders.&uot;

The Bulldogs have a tough test tonight in Lawrence County, a team with a tradition of strong play and winning.

&uot;I just know they’re going to be good. They always are,&uot; Hart said.