Natchez, Wave start Monday as MHSAA schools open practice

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 5, 2005

Who knows right now if there’s truth in the numbers, but Natchez High likes its totals so far.

Last year the Bulldogs put 65 on the roster to start the season in the first season of head coach Lance Reed’s tenure, and that total should be higher Monday when the Bulldogs and other MHSAA teams in the Miss-Lou officially open fall workouts in preparation for the 2005 season.

Compare that to the 43 on roster for the 2003 season, and there’s progress that’s worth noting for a 5A program that’s suiting up 5A numbers.

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&uot;I’d say a minimum of 65 kids,&uot; Reed said. &uot;There are kids who have been here all summer. We’ve been going 50 to 60 kids every day working out. That’s been a plus. We had 40 (Wednesday) morning, and there’s another 30 at least &045; maybe more.&uot;

The Bulldogs will scrap two-a-day workouts to start out fall camp since teachers in the Natchez-Adams School District are to report on Monday prior to the first day of school. The Bulldogs will go each evening 5-7 p.m. with the jamboree three weeks away and the season opener at Port Gibson slated for Aug. 26.

But these Bulldogs &045; despite a 1-10 mark last season and a MHSAA-worst 548 points surrendered &045; enter camp with momentum. The team had a productive week at the Mississippi State 7-on-7 camp two weeks ago, and coaches have pushed spending time in the weight room following their first spring training earlier this year.

&uot;We took right at about 40 kids, and we had a good time,&uot; Reed said. &uot;The linemen did well. We were in the top eight among 20 teams there. We got some good work in at that camp. They went through drills and worked hard. They’re in fairly good shape right now. They competed with some good competition up there.&uot;

The Bulldogs start Monday picking up where they left off back in the spring. No one area may be more important than the other, since most of the 548 points yielded last season came after turnovers deep in their own territory.

The Bulldogs lost three starters on offense and three on defense, including quarterback/safety Riley Trask. Jason Bruce will take over the quarterbacking duties full time this fall with an offensive unit that was junior-dominated last fall.

The jamboree is slated for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 19 with Wilkinson County and Callaway coming for a three-way scrimmage.

&uot;Every time we start practice in the spring and in the fall we treat it as our kids don’t know anything,&uot; Reed said. &uot;We start with the basics. We re-teach stuff. We’re trying to make sure we do things right. We’re going to make sure we’re ready for our jamboree and our first game.&uot;

Cathedral, meanwhile, will get started at 4:30 p.m. Monday with one workout per day since teachers report Wednesday. It’s the start of an ambitious fall workout schedule for the Green Wave, who starts a week earlier than in years past due to the Aug. 19 Classic game against St. Aloysius.

Add to it a number of players lost to graduation or other reasons, and the team has work to do. The team is expected to suit up 30-32 players.

&uot;They haven’t all been (in the weight room) every day, but overall we’ve had a better turnout this summer than in the past,&uot; CHS head coach Ken Beesley Sr. said. &uot;We’ve got a lot of positions we’ve got to fill. We’re looking for quality skill people and linemen. I think we’ll be a fair team to start out with, but if somebody gets hurt, we don’t know where we’ll go from there. We’ll have a lot of young kids who will have to step up.&uot;

The biggest holdover may be at the quarterback spot with Patrick McDonough in the team’s spread set, but the offense may scrap that wishbone from last fall in favor of the old I formation. Gone are the two tackles and last year’s go-to guy in Andrew Ellard.

Parker Brumfield transferred to Trinity Episcopal, and Jesse Morrison opted not to play football.

But the team has a nice crop of athletes coming up from junior high with receivers Daniel Jenkins and Kole Junkin, quarterback Preston Edwards and lineman Evan Byrd.

&uot;We’ve got some pretty good talent coming up from eighth grade,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;They’ve got some good size. All of them are going to see playing time. This is one of the bigger size-wise &045; not numbers-wise &045; groups we’ve had come up. We’ve got to give them a chance to see what they can do.&uot;

Over at Franklin County, the second of three first-year head coaches in the Miss-Lou gets started actually today when the Bulldogs get started under Grady McCluskey.

The team will hold a conditioning workout today for the day of practice lost in the jamboree and hold two-a-day workouts Monday and Tuesday at 7:30-9:30 a.m. and 3-4:45 p.m. and practice in the afternoon only beginning Wednesday.

McCluskey takes over after serving as an assistant under former head coach Anthony Hart, now at Lafayette County.

&uot;They’ve done well this summer,&uot; McCluskey said. &uot;We’re ready to go, and we’ll start (today). (As head coach), it’s just a little more stuff you have to do. You’re still working with the kids and trying to get them ready, but you’ve got things you have to do that are not really football-related in my opinion.&uot;

The Bulldogs go into fall workouts with an emphasis on finding a quarterback and filling in spots on the front line. The team had five players sign with colleges last year, and now the goal is to get ready for this season.

Jont Marshall and Ryne Tutor will compete for the job of quarterback in a system that may not change much under the new coach.

&uot;Jont is a starting defensive back kind of like Jasper (O’Quinn) was,&uot; McCluskey said. &uot;Ryne is a headsy kid. His brother (Kyle) was a good athlete, but he’s not that big. He’s smaller and quicker. They’re kind of the same type of player. We’re going to be kind of the same as we were last year &045; I formation and running the ball a lot. We’ll probably be a duplicate of last year.&uot;