Rebels in tuneup for big game next week; Saints host Cougars

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 9, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; Take away some bumps and bruises, a few hurt feelings and just some regrettable mistakes, and that Adams Christian loss at Oak Forest was about as positive as a loss can get.

Now it’s just a matter of straightening everything back out.

The Rebels continue to plug away despite some season-ending injuries and others not being 100 percent. The 39-3 loss down at Amite, La., was something to build on &045; at least three quarters of it &045; heading into the final stretch of the 2004 schedule.

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The Rebels visit WCCA Friday as MPSA schools in the Miss-Lou enter Week 8. It’s also the game before perhaps their biggest game so far this season next week at home against Central Hinds.

&uot;We’ve got some bumps and bruises, but I think everybody will play,&uot; AC head coach Keith Walters said. &uot;We had our chances pretty early, and we really played well the whole night. But it was just that six-minute stretch (in the second quarter) where everything went wrong.

&uot;They’re very good, but we competed. I think we can take some positives out of that and hopefully play well this week.&uot;

The injury list swelled a bit after that game, but it’s pretty common for a team’s trainer to put in some extra time after going up against teams like Oak Forest. Running back Heath Williams underwent a MRI on his shoulder, fullback Joey Wilson is nursing sore ribs and Lee Dellinger is also banged up.

That’s on top of receiver Ray Simpson still playing through pain, Dustin Case out for the season with a broken arm and running back Cole Bradford also out for the season with a torn ACL.

&uot;I think if anybody plays Oak Forest, they’ll be sore for a couple of days,&uot; Walters said. &uot;We’ve got to keep playing good defense. We’ve just got to keep on working. We’ve got four weeks left, and I hope we can end up on a strong note. I’m proud of our kids. Even with the injuries we’ve had, we’ve had some guys step up.&uot;

The offense has turned to Dellinger and Williams in the backfield, but Timmy Foster has taken more responsibility each week with the offense with a budding passing game. It’s just the opposite of their Friday night opponent as the Rams have stuck with the ground game behind a good-sized offensive line.

The Rams showed what can happen when they’re injury-free &045; a 41-0 win over Prentiss Christian on Friday. The Rams also come into the game with a big game looming next week &045; they can clinch the District 6-A title with a win over Amite School Center Oct. 15.

The Rams had 100-yard rushing efforts from Ruston Cado and Greg Garner last week behind quarterback Collin Dor.

&uot;We’ve got a key district game next week, and our players know that,&uot; said Walters, who coached at WCCA during the 1990s. &uot;But we’ve got a tough game Friday night. I’ve always liked Cado, and they’ve got Dor back at quarterback. They’re awfully big up front. We’re definitely out-manned up front.&uot;

Columbia at Trinity

NATCHEZ &045; There still is hope, but the Saints’ loss down at Centreville Friday has them hoping for an upset or two to move into the playoff picture.

But no one is really concerned with that. For a team that knew getting into the playoffs would be as tough as a perfect score on the ACT, the Saints are shooting for a winning record to just keep proving people wrong.

&uot;Our goal is to finish strong and have a winning record,&uot; Trinity head coach David King said. &uot;That’s our biggest focus &045; proving people wrong. We’ve got four games left and are 4-3 right now. We can finish strong and finish 7-4 or 8-3 or fall off and finish 4-7.&uot;

The Saints went down fighting last week at Centreville, a team that is expected to give Oak Forest a run for its money when the two teams meet Oct. 22. The Saints were able to

move the ball well and pulled some big plays from players other than Stevan Ridley &045; who scored all 39 points in the Saints’ win at Tri-County the week prior.

Zach Rogel had some huge runs out of the option and hit Kris Ford up the middle for a 57-yard touchdown pass.

The Cougars will try to do the same thing on the offensive end while doing what so many teams in District 4-AA do well &045; play ball control, grind the clock and stack up big drives. But the difference in the team the Saints played last week is Columbia will spread it out more and get more people involved in the offense.

It’s another big test for the defense, a unit that played well last week at Centreville.

&uot;They beat Wayne, who was No. 1 in the state in single-A,&uot; King said. &uot;I think they’re a lot like us, but they’ve got a few more kids and a few more God-given athletes. If we play as hard as we did last week, I think we’ll have a shot at it.&uot;

Tallulah at Tensas

ST. JOSEPH, La. &045; The talk back in late July was getting to a position like this, and here are the Chiefs with a shot at getting into the playoffs.

The winner of this game Friday will be in solid standing for the No. 2 spot behind River Oaks, whom the Chiefs gave perhaps its biggest battle last week before losing 17-6.

Both teams are 2-1. Tensas will finish district play next week against Huntington, and the Trojans have to play Briarfield.

&uot;We had a good practice (Monday), and it’s homecoming this week,&uot; Tensas head coach Chris Jacobs said. &uot;It’s going to be an exciting game. I think (our kids) are looking forward to it. It’s a rivalry game for us. We had our chances to win the ball game (last week). It just slipped through our fingertips &045; literally.&uot;

The win was so close had it not been for some key turnovers &045; one fumble just outside the end zone and a muff on the kickoff to open the second half with the Chiefs leading 6-0.

Jacobs and the Chiefs found solace in the opportunities against a team that had been mashing everyone in the district. It also clearly points out what needs to be addressed going up against the Trojans on Friday &045; limit the turnovers.

&uot;We’re playing good football,&uot; Jacobs said. &uot;We didn’t do anything special. We just came up on the short end of it. In the games we’ve lost, we’ve lost the turnover battle.&uot;

Huntington at Riverdale

FERRIDAY, La. &045; The Hounds are also out of district and looking to end a three-game losing skid.

Winless Riverdale have been shut out the last two games and scoring just eight points the last three games.