Red-hot AC, Saints face tough tasks

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 30, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; The days of Adams Christian plucking a player off the offensive line and moving him to the backfield may be over.

The well, head coach Bobby Marks admitted, is starting to run dry on power backs.

Brock Vines’ broken ankle suffered during the second half of Friday’s win over Copiah put a damper on that and added to the list of the walking wounded for the Rebels this season. Even his replacement suffered a shoulder injury, and the team is just trying to keep things together for right now.

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The Rebels go out of the district this week with a home contest against Oak Forest as MPSA schools in the Miss-Lou enter Week 7.

&uot;I tell you what &045; I’ve never coached a football team that lost four running backs in four weeks,&uot; Marks said. &uot;I don’t even like to talk about injuries, but it’s getting to the point where you may see us pass to a sophomore every other down. You finally run out of folks. And it seems like the injuries we’re getting are so freaky &045; there’s no contact.&uot;

Losing Vines will put another damper on a running game that’s taken more than its share of blows this game. Tel Faulkner went to the backfield at fullback with David Alton New moving over to right halfback, but Faulker played through a shoulder sore enough where he had to use his other arm to get down in his stance.

Like Faulkner, the remainder of the team is doing whatever is necessary to keep the Rebels’ hot start to the season going.

&uot;We hate to lose anybody, but it’s like I told the kids &045; we’re trying to put a football team back together,&uot; Marks said. &uot;It gets harder every week when we lose a player like Brock Vines, but they’re all major. They all are when you don’t have much to start with.

&uot;We’re just shuffling those people around, and it’s hard on them, but they’ve got the best attitudes. And they just don’t give up. That’s why we’re 5-0.&uot;

The Rebels didn’t give up last week in their hard-fought win over Copiah, 9-8, to get a firm grip on the top spot in the District 3-AA standings. It’s taken some of the pressure off them these next two weeks &045; the Rebels host WCCA next week &045; before traveling to Central Hinds Oct. 14 in the second must-win game this season.

So don’t blame them if it takes a little incentive out of Friday’s game against the Yellow Jackets. But then again, Friday will be a grand stage to further prove to people they’re for real.

&uot;The game we’ve got to win in thue Central Hinds game,&uot; Marks said. &uot;We might have everybody back halfway healthy. Those kids played defense like I’ve never seen kids play in the fourth quarter (against Copiah). (Oak Forest) are so fast and so quick. They’re just like a bunch of yellow jackets going to a hive. But our defense swarms pretty good, too.&uot;

Centreville at Trinity

NATCHEZ &045; Coaches at Trinity can point to this game last year as the game. It was the point where the team may have actually believed in themselves, stopped worrying about being a small Class AA school and just played as hard as they could.

The Tigers held off Trinity 21-14 at home on their way to a South State championship. Now a year later and a little more experienced, they find themselves in the same situation Friday night.

&uot;This is a chance for our program to make some noise in district,&uot; Trinity head coach David King said. &uot;This year we made the step of really competing and giving ourselves

a chance to really compete for one of those playoff spots. I think our kids are really confident. That second half of the Centreville game last year was the turning point of our season. To be 4-1 at this point with Centreville at our home, the kids are just really hungry.&uot;

It puts the Saints up against a rebuilding Centreville team that remains a part of the district race at 1-0 despite the hurdles it’s faced this season. The Tigers have struggled on offense after losing all their starters from last year, but the defense has kept them in games.

Linebacker Jason Vine has developed into a playmaker on that side of the ball.

&uot;On film, they are really good defensively,&uot; King said. &uot;I think they’ve just got some young backs who are getting better every week. But they’re really good on defense. Besides Parklane, everybody has had trouble scoring on them.&uot;

Huntington at Briarfield

FERRIDAY, La. &045; This will do a number for your turnover ratio &045; the Hounds ended their fumble-less streak of four games when Huston Eliser lost it Friday night against Tallulah Academy.

And it was only the Hounds’ second fumble all season. In an offense that’s predicated on keeping it on the ground and controlling the clock, you can’t ask for more.

&uot;We work on ball handling, and we talk about protecting the ball and doing things that are necessary,&uot; Huntington head coach Chad Harkins said. &uot;It was after a real good run &045; about a 17- or 18-yard run. The ball just popped out. Fortunately we were up by 20 or 21 when it happened.&uot;

That’s the only complaint to be found from that win, and it’s being nit-picky at best since it came after such a big gain. Eliser and Jody Cottongin each topped the 100-yard mark and helped the offense churn out 258 rushing yards in the win.

The offense continues to improve each week, and it helps heading into this week’s game at Briarfield. The Hounds are 2-0 in District 7-A and hoping to stay in the race for a playoff spot, while the Rebels are 2-1 and trying to hang on.

&uot;I think we’re getting better every week, just like we’re trying to get,&uot; Harkins said. &uot;They just keep trying to get a little better. We’ll come prepared each week like we’ve been preparing. Looking at film, I think we match up fine. I don’t think they’re on the same level as AC, but they’re definitely better than some of the teams we’ve played.&uot;

River Oaks at Tensas

ST. JOSEPH, La. &045; For two seasons now the Chiefs have met up with the Mustangs in a jamboree before a regular-season matchup, but this time they hope things will finally be different.

The game plan is simple &045; nothing has really changed with River Oaks’ double-wing offense, and it’s just a matter of carrying out that plan. The Chiefs had River Oaks up 6-0 at half last season in Monroe before coming up short 17-6.

Now they’ll go again at Tensas.

&uot;They do a lot of misdirection and fake the ball real well,&uot; TA head coach Chris Jacobs said. &uot;It’s almost impossible to blitz or pick up on any particular keys. It’s a very potent offense. They’re probably averaging in the low 40s (scoring). They’re solid on the line, got great skill position players and got a lot of people involved in their offense.&uot;

The offense is back with Douglas Walker at quarterback with a number of players returning from last season. The offense helped the Mustangs take the 7-A championship last season thanks to an unblemished run through the league.

Walker is the key that makes the offense go, and the Chiefs have to play their assignments and remain patient in order to stop it.

&uot;If you’ve got counters, you play nothing but counters,&uot; Jacobs said. &uot;If you’ve got fullback, you play nothing but fullback. If an inside linebacker starts watching quick sweeps running down the side, the quarterback is probably running past you. Your outside guys can’t go running up the field. If you do, that’s when they’re going to run those counters against you.

&uot;I’m hoping we can give them some problems. We know what they’re going to do. It’s probably the easiest week of coaching in that we already know what we’re going to do from the jamboree.&uot;

Prentiss Christian at WCCA

WOODVILLE &045; There’s another big game down in District 6-A, and the winner will have a firm grip on who wins the district title. It worked out this way last season in the four-team league in a 40-8 WCCA in Prentiss, and this time the game is in Woodville.

Everyone knows what’s at stake. Yet the Saints are considerably bigger than they were last fall, and the Rams are just the opposite.

&uot;Prentiss is a real good football team,&uot; WCCA head coach Paul Hayles said. &uot;They’ve got an excellent line and an experienced coaching staff. We’ve got our hands full, no doubt. They do very much of the same thing. Don’t fix it if it’s not broke. I think size-wise goes to them.&uot;

At least the Rams have a bit of momentum under their belts after taking their share of lumps during pre-district. The Rams have posted wins against Centreville and Tallulah while suffering through losses against dominant teams as Porters Chapel, Claiborne and Brookhaven.

Last week’s 36-0 win over Union Academy allowed everyone to play well and get back to feeling good after the final horn sounded.

&uot;It was nice to come off the field and actually be healthy,&uot; Hayles said. &uot;From being bruised from head to toe to sprained knees and sore shoulders &045; we’ve dealt with that all year long.&uot;