Local teams forge through sloppy conditions for victory

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 11, 2004

It wasn’t pretty, but with a 12-0 victory over Franklin County, the Hazlehurst Indians took control of the Region 7-3A championship race, and all but assured themselves of a spot in the playoffs.

&uot;We still have to win at least one more,&uot; head coach Willie Brown said. &uot;We just need one more to make sure.&uot;

The rain came down all day Thursday and Friday leading up to the game, leaving Hazlehurst’s homecoming celebration a little worse for the wear. But the football team wasn’t about to let the wet weather drown out its plans. Instead, the Indians knocked off No. 3 Franklin County in an upset that shook up the balance of power in Region 7-3A, perhaps the toughest region in the state this year.

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The Bulldogs came into the game averaging 43.3 points per game, but were shut out by the aggressive Hazlehurst defense.

Defensive coordinator Todd McDaniel, a standout at Alcorn before turning to coaching, had a lot to do with that. McDaniel’s defense followed the game plan, swarming the run and forcing four Bulldog turnovers.

On defense, the Bulldogs turned in a strong performance, though they again couldn’t match the unbelievably high standards they’ve set this year. Coming into the game, Franklin County had allowed a total of 26 points in six games, or 4.3 per contest.

The Indians only loss on the season came against 5A Hattiesburg in the early going, and even with tough district contests left to go, they just might end the regular season without another blemish.

An injury to wingback Damien Anderson will put the offensive load squarely on the shoulders of fullback Dexter Douglas and quarterback Fred Robinson, though judging by Friday’s effort, they should be able to soldier through.

Douglas led the team with 83 rushing yards and Robinson was 6-for-10 through the air despite the wet conditions.

In any case, area teams now know one thing. Hazlehurst is for real.

WELCOME TO THE LHSAA &045; First-year program Calvary Academy got its money’s worth Friday night in a driving rain at Melz Field, and it was a Cavaliers squad that was lacking its necessary firepower.

Namely quarterback Alan Rogers and receiver Justin Poole.

Those were two key players missing Friday night thanks to a tough schedule the Cavaliers have had to play in their first year of existence. Since entering the LHSAA in the second year of a two-year scheduling period, the Cavaliers took on any available opponent just to get a game.

The 1A Cavaliers played a 4A school, and that’s when things went downhill.

&uot;That’s when the injuries started coming,&uot; said head coach Johnny Booty, the former Evangel assistant and father to three major Division I ball players. &uot;We played a 4A team, and we really got hurt. We didn’t have a spring weight training. Our shoulders are not where they should be, and our knees are not where they should be. But the kids aren’t whining, and I’m happy with that.&uot;

Nor are the Cavaliers whining about the schedule. Booty &045; whose son, Abram, is his offensive coordinator &045; scheduled games whenever and wherever. The Cavaliers went to Foreman, Ark., and later met up with Class 4A Woodlawn of Shreveport.

They have this week off, go to Wilkinson County Oct. 22 and make perhaps the longest road trip of anyone in the LHSAA this season when they travel to Boothville-Venice to finish the season.

&uot;Last year when Tommy (Henry) told us we could get it together, we just started hustling,&uot; Booty said. &uot;We called anybody we knew that didn’t have games. It’s not the best way to do it from a coach’s point of view. You don’t want to play 4A schools.

&uot;I appreciate Coach McFarland for letting us come and play. I feel like this group of kids in two years can really be something.&uot;

SCOTTY’S BACK &045; The Trojans’ offense finally got into the end zone on a muddy field, something not many team can say they did often Friday night as rain blanketed the area.

The Trojans’ only score came after they inserted Scotty Cage back in at quarterback after he missed all of last week’s game and played just one drive in the first half. Out with a virus last week, Cage came in on the second drive of the game and threw an interception.

Later in the game, however, he hit Alonzo Booth on a big fourth-down play for an 18-yard touchdown pass to help the Trojans snap a three-game losing skid.

&uot;I got a couple passes in at practice,&uot; Cage said. &uot;I went out in the first half and threw an interception but came back strong. We could have done this all during the season. We just didn’t execute. The coaches are giving us a good game plan. We’ve got one of the best coaching staffs in double-A.&uot;

It was a welcome sight for everyone associated with Trojan football. Sophomore Terrance Johnson played most of the first half at quarterback, but the Trojans couldn’t move the ball much in the air due to the simple fact they couldn’t grab it.

Cage only threw seven passes, but he completed five &045; four coming on the scoring drive.

&uot;He didn’t play last week, but he was able to come in in the second half and do a good job for us,&uot; Ferriday head coach James McFarland said. &uot;I don’t think he was 100 percent, but Scotty is a tough kid. Scotty won’t say he’s sick. He won’t say much of anything, to be honest with you.&uot;


Adam Daigle

contributed to this report)