Prep Notebook: Plenty to learn from Friday’s ACCS-Trinity barnburner showdown

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 5, 2004

What an eye-opener.

If you were in attendance at Friday night’s Trinity-Adams Christian contest at Trinity (judging by the crowd, if you weren’t, you are in the minority), you learned three big things by the time the buzzer final buzzer sounded.

Trinity Episcopal may be better than everyone anticipated, Adams Christian will still have to fight for wins in Class AA just like it did in AAA and Natchez needs a rivalry game like that to really spark the interest of the community.

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It was the first regular season football installment of the crosstown showdown, the last of the three major sports to feature a meeting that actually counted. As hard-fought as the game was from the beginning to end, it may be hard to imagine the two not meeting up each season.

The game had probably the most pre-game hype and post-game banter of any game involving a Natchez school since the final installment of the old North Natchez-South Natchez contest in 1988.

Had it not been for some bad things that happened to the Saints late in the first half, the outcome would have been much closer than the 33-24 final score. They outscored AC 18-3 in the second half.

&uot;We couldn’t execute at all in the first half,&uot; said Trinity head coach David King, an AC graduate. &uot;They had a lot to do with it. They’re just a great ball club. Keith Walters has done a great job, and they’re on the rise.&uot;

The 57 points scored may not have been a surprise to some folks, considering the Rebels’ struggles on defense in recent seasons, the Saints’ ability to move the football with the running game and the amount of intensity in a game like this.

Rivalry games have a tendency to include some early turnovers or mistakes just from everyone’s emotions running so high, and late in the second quarter was no exception. The Rebels recovered an onside kick late in the first quarter and scored on that possession. Then on their only time to punt in the first half the Saints couldn’t field it cleanly, and David Trisler came up with the ball for AC at the Trinity 33.

The Rebels got a field goal on that possession.

Trisler then picked off a pass with just under two minutes left before halftime, and the Rebels scored quick on that possession for a 30-6 lead at the break.

But after his team scored just three points the second half, Walters was thankful to get out of there with a win.

&uot;(Stevan) Ridley is just a very good back, and he’s hard to tackle,&uot; Walters said. &uot;He’s physical and strong. It’s really hard to tackle him one on one. We didn’t score but three points in the second half, but those three were huge.

&uot;We were very fortunate in the first half. It didn’t feel to me we were up 30-6 at the half.&uot;

The Saints made some changes on defense and started putting more people in the box in the second half to put more pressure on quarterback Timmy Foster and defend the run up the middle better.

Trinity had a big momentum swing when Ridley returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown, but the biggest defensive stand may have been when the Rebels went for it on fourth and 1 at their own 40 and came up short when Joey Wilson was thrown for a loss on a run up the middle.

The Saints’ offense, meanwhile, couldn’t mount a drive in the fourth quarter and were saddled each possession with poor field position.

&uot;We’re just limited in our play-making ability,&uot; King said. &uot;We just played on guts and heart, and it wasn’t enough. But I’m proud of them.&uot;

OUCH &045; It wasn’t even a regular season game for Cathedral, but the Green Wave lost three starters to injury Saturday at the Vidalia jamboree &045; on top of three starters who were sitting out the contest due to injury.

The Green Wave lost Preston Hicks early to a broken bone in his ankle, and Murphy Hinson went down with a knee. Receiver Andrew Ellard suffered a concussion.

That all came with Chris Rasco, Justin Dollar and Nick Blain sitting out.

&uot;We had to play a lot of young kids, but it was good experience for them,&uot; CHS head coach Ken Beesley Sr. said. &uot;They’re just going to have to step it up. We know it’s going to be tough on us for a while. Hopefully we’ll get better as we go on.&uot;

Losing Ellard was big on Saturday, but the experienced senior may be able to play Friday in the season-opener against Madison St. Joseph. Hinson will undergo a MRI this week, Rasco will undergo another MRI this week, Blain will go to the doctor this week and Dollar may practice today.

The biggest injury is Hicks, who had a cast put on that leg and will be out six to eight weeks. It puts the quarterback duties on Matthew Hall, and Patrick McDonough will be the backup.

&uot;He’s going to be carrying the load,&uot; Beesley said of Hall. &uot;He didn’t do that bad a job. He’s got to realize in the offense we run he’s going to make mistakes.&uot;

OUCH II &045; Natchez High didn’t fare much better. The Bulldogs lost defensive lineman Tyrone Baldwin during Friday’s win over Port Gibson to a broken tibula, and the junior was transported to a Jackson hospital before undergoing surgery.

Baldwin had pins placed around the break and will be out for at least six weeks. Marcus Johnson and Jonathan Cook will rotate in his place at tackle.

&uot;One of our kids rolled on him. It was pretty bad,&uot; NHS head coach Lance Reed said. &uot;It was a tough loss for us. We played it very careful. It seemed like it was pretty bad.&uot;

It put a damper on the wild in over the Blue Waves in Reed’s debut as coach. The 39 points the Bulldogs put up Friday were the most since a 56-24 win over Forest Hill to end the 2000 season.