Huntington out of playoffs but definitely on upswing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2005

For the first time in his seven years in the coaching business, Huntington’s Chad Harkins won’t be making playoff arrangements.

It’s a disappointment for the first-year Hounds coach and many of his players, who had that as a goal this season along with just turning around a program that hasn’t been a part of the postseason since 1998. But their other goal &045; a winning season &045; remains in reach with two games remaining.

Now 5-4, the Hounds are one of two teams in the Miss-Lou who have significantly improved over last season &045; Natchez High being the other &045;&160;despite a 24-20 loss Friday night to Tensas that ended their playoff plans.

Email newsletter signup

&8221;I know the past, and I know what it was,&8220; Harkins said. &8221;I know how long I’ve been here, and I know that’s not a long time. We felt we could do more than we did. We did do well as far as the past is concerned. We still had the potential to be in the playoffs, and it wasn’t a deal where we weren’t good enough to be in the playoffs.&8220;

The Hounds would have been in position to get into the playoffs had they won Friday night. They still would have needed a win at River Oaks in the final game of the season to set any tie-breakers in motion with Briarfield.

Yet they were in position to set all those things in motion late in the game against the Chiefs, who earlier had their playoffs hopes squashed with a loss to River Oaks. They may have found solace in playing the role of spoiler, but the Hounds certainly got Tensas Academy’s attention in what turned into an all-out fight.

&8221;Huntington is a lot better than what I thought they were going to be,&8220; TA defensive end Cody Hill said. &8221;I knew they were good, but they brought it. It’s been disappointing (this season), but all of our games have been right there. They just haven’t fallen our way &045; except for River Oaks and Porters Chapel, they were the only teams that beat us. We’re just trying to have a winning season.&8220;

The Hounds had their opportunities against Tensas. The Chiefs lost the ball on a Huntington kickoff midway through the fourth quarter before the Hounds’ Jody Cottongin recovered it at the Tensas 30.

Nursing the four-point lead, the Chiefs’ defense held tight. Huntington threw incomplete on second down, and Hunter Norwood lost his footing 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage on fourth down as the drive ended without a first down.

&8221;We gave ourselves several opportunities to win this game, but we couldn’t capitalize,&8220; Harkins said. &8221;We’ve got to throw the ball more, and we’ve got to complete some passes. If we can do that, we’ll be a much better football team. We’ll be better than we are at this time. But we’re improving, and that’s all I can ask for.&8220;

The loss gives River Oaks the District 7-A title for the second straight season with Briarfield going in as the runner-up. The Hounds can clinch that winning season next week against WCCA, and that’s something to build on for next season.

There won’t be much teaching to do next fall with the offense as this time, and Harkins will have a spring to build on for next fall.

&8221;The biggest thing with our team is we’ve got to stop thinking that everybody we play &045; I think they feel like they’re good,&8220; Harkins said. &8221;They’ve been beaten by (Tensas) for years. There’s been a lot of losses to them and to the teams we’ve lost to. We can play with whoever lines up. On Friday nights, we’ve got to believe that week-in and week-out.

&8221;We’ll play these two last games and have a good off-season, and I think you’ll see a different team.&8220;

BIG PLAY &045; As much as the Chiefs pounded the ball up the middle with the run, the one time they didn’t may have caught everybody by surprise.

After 10 straight running plays and two that couldn’t move the chains, quarterback Bennett Schauf hit a wide-open Bradley Sloane on a 29-yard touchdown pass for a 24-14 lead at the 10:06 mark.

The Hounds answered on their next drive with a score, but the pass turned out to be the game-winner.

&8221;We just had a blown coverage,&8220; Harkins said. &8221;Their guy rolled out. Our guy who is supposed to defending their No. 1 receiver. The guy just got behind him. That was a tough on there for us. I was worried about them throwing the ball on us because we were going to have to commit to the run. They had some pretty good backs.&8220;

Hill, Michael McWilliams and Will Ratcliff moved the chains earlier in that drive and a huge scoring drive to start the second half when McWilliams scored from 7 yards out. And the Chiefs haven’t passed much this season with sophomore Schauf and receiver Ryan Borsch out earlier with a back injury.

&8221;We were two evenly matched teams, and we proved that tonight,&8220; Tensas head coach Chris Jacobs said. &8221;I know they were really disappointed not to win, but they’re really a better team than the last couple of years. They could have rolled over, and we could have, too.

&8221;I think we fooled them on (the pass) &045; we only had 10 guys on the field. They were probably looking for that other receiver. Thank God we had a pass play called.&8220;

KEEP ON SHUFFLING &045; Trinity Episcopal landed another impressive road win Friday at Bowling Green, but the Saints are doing it while waiting on the services of senior Blain Misita while he recovers from a broken leg.

Misita, a starting defensive end for the season opener against Amite, didn’t complete that first game and forced the Saints to reshuffle their defense. Now that evacuee Arthur Green has left, the unit had to make changes again.

Matthew Freeman has moved to the end spot with Wells Middleton taking over at linebacker for Green.

&8221;We were hoping at this time we got Blain Misita back,&8220; Trinity head coach David King said. &8221;We kept thinking this was the game he was going to be back, but he’s not been cleared yet. Maybe next week he’ll return. He’s anxious to get back in there.

&8221;Wells is about 145 pounds, but they don’t come any tougher than Wells. Arthur is a tough loss, but Wells did a good job filling in.&8220;

MOVING ON &045; His efforts may have been overshadowed, but Daniel Hollowell put up 125 yards rushing Friday night as he moves into Cathedral’s No. 1 back slot following the turf toe injury to Zack Calhoun.

Only Hollowell didn’t get the attention. Everyone at Enterprise Friday was talking about Terrell May, who put up 381 yards and six touchdowns in a 48-27 win over the Green Wave.

Hollowell is still nursing that ankle injury, too, while Calhoun recovers.

&8221;If he gets hit or gets his ankle twisted, he could possibly have to leave the game,&8220; CHS head coach Ken Beesley Sr. said. &8221;That’s the thing I’m worried about. We’re trying to not let him have that much contact during practice.&8220;