Green Wave looks for big win

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 2, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Cathedral&8217;s quest for its first playoff berth in three years will take a pivotal step tonight as the Green Wave take on St. John in a fledging MHSAA District 4-1A rivalry.

&8220;I told the kids if they want to make the playoffs, they&8217;re going to have to win at least two of our three games against St. John, Mt. Olive, or Mercy Cross,&8221; coach Ken Beesley said. &8220;In the coaches&8217; poll at the beginning of the year, they were one of the teams picked in the top three. In our minds they&8217;re in the top three until somebody knocks them off.&8221;

Beesley hopes that last week&8217;s games for both teams carry over into tonight&8217;s contest.

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Last year the Green Wave were blanked 33-0 by St. John, and also lost three starters to injury.

Last week the Green Wave were clicking on all cylinders, as they defeated West Lincoln 48-8 while St. John suffered a 15-40 drubbing at the hands of Bogue Chitto.

While the veer offense has been around for quite some time, tonight will be the first time the Green Wave has had to face it this season.

&8220;The thing I&8217;m worried about is our defensive ends and linebackers getting their assignments mixed up,&8221; Beesley said. &8220;We&8217;ve gone over it this week, but if they get mixed up during a game, then there is the possibility that it leads to a big gain.&8221;

St. John is led on offense by fullback Taylor Gundlach and tailback Justin Minor, if the Green Wave are to be successful it starts with stopping those two players.

&8220;I suspect they are going to try and run it inside on us, like St. Al did,&8221; Beesley said. &8220;That&8217;s what they did against Salem and it worked for them.&8221;

Defensively the Green Wave will face nothing new as St. John will line up in the same 3-3-5 sets or eagle formations that every other team has used against them this season.

Beesley added that while their defensive fronts will be the same, he expects a very physical contest and that St. John is the best tackling team the Green Wave have faced this season.

&8220;I feel like we can play with them and be very competitive,&8221; Beesely said. &8220;We&8217;re going to have to bring our A-game like we did last week.&8221;

Natchez at Meridian

Natchez Bulldog fans, players and coaches are feeling something special in the air after last week&8217;s spectacular comeback victory over Franklin County sent them to a 4-0 record on the season, but the meat of the schedule begins now.

Natchez High will open district play tonight at Meridian (2-2) at 7:30 p.m.

Head coach Lance Reed knows the Bulldogs will have their hands full.

&8220;They&8217;re 2-2 and they&8217;ve lost to two really good teams,&8221; Reed said of Meridian. They&8217;re coming off a state championship (game appearance). They just kind of reload down there.&8221;

Meridian handed Natchez a 34-13 defeat last year, and Reed said that Bulldog fans could expect a similar Meridian team.

&8220;Last year they had two top-notch running backs,&8221; he said. &8220;One of them went to Ole Miss. They played kind of a power-type offense that was really tough to stop. This year they still run the football but they spread you out, too. They have athletes that run around on defense. We&8217;re excited about playing them.&8221;

Meridian rarely loses at home, and Reed said that may hamper the Bulldogs&8217; chances.

&8220;Them playing at home will make it tough,&8221; he said. &8220;They are a tough team to beat on the road. They take pride in winning at home. Going into foreign territory will be a disadvantage. We need to go up there, keep our composure, and play good football.&8221;

Reed did feel that Natchez&8217;s dramatic week two road win over Vicksburg, as well as their other wins this season, would be good preparation for the trip.

&8220;We feel like all four of our non-district games were ones that prepared us four our district. We&8217;ve played some close games, had games we&8217;ve been down, and everything in between. Those things are important for you as you go into district.&8221;

Franklin County at South Pike

The Franklin County Bulldogs (3-1) will try to get over a heartbreaking loss to Natchez when they visit South Pike tonight at 7.

South Pike (2-2) was shut out by McComb and Brookhaven in its first two games, but has since taken out Warren Central and North Pike to reach .500.

Jefferson County vs. Hinds AHS

The Tigers (2-2) will see a much different opponent than last week.

After a 36-0 win over Bailey Magnet on the road, Jefferson County will now welcome Hinds AHS (4-0), who has outscored its opponents 136-14 thus far this season.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.