Tough road ahead for Bulldogs

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 2, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; From here on out, the road doesn&8217;t get any easier for the Natchez Bulldogs, as this week they will line up against yet another tough opponent in Oak Grove (4-1).

For the Bulldogs, this is a must-win game if they want to stay in the thick of the hunt for a playoff spot in region 3-5A.

&8220;We&8217;re in district play now and every game counts, obviously we want to put ourselves in as good of a position heading into the playoffs,&8221; coach Lance Reed said.

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Last week, the Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the season, but the team is hoping to have learned from the mistakes made in that game.

&8220;Focus-wise we hope we have learned some lessons from last week,&8221; Reed said. &8220;Not putting the ball on the ground has been a big focus of practice this week.&8221;

Both teams possess identical records at 4-1, but that isn&8217;t where the similarities end.

&8220;Offensively, they run a similar scheme and they execute it to perfection,&8221; Reed said. &8220;We have to go into this game and plan on playing error free, and give ourselves our best chance to win.&8221;

Much like the Bulldogs, Oak Grove has a talented player under center in quarterback Kirk Lance. Thus far this season, Lance has thrown for 10 touchdowns and rushed for another two.

&8220;He&8217;s a returning starter from last year,&8221; Reed said. &8220;He&8217;s also a very precise player that gets the ball where he wants it. He&8217;s a pocket passer, who will pick you apart.&8221;

Defensively Oak Grove will employ the same defense the Bulldogs have been seein g all year long in the 3-3-5. Reed described the Oak Grove defense as one that bends but doesn&8217;t break.

Look for this to be a high scoring game, as both teams have outscored their opponents by a collective score of 359-163.

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. in Oak Grove.

Cathedral at Mt. Olive

The Green Wave, after two consecutive impressive home wins, will hit the road again in search of head coach Ken Beesley&8217;s 200th win tonight at Mt. Olive.

The game will feature a match-up of the only remaining unbeatens in the MHSAA&8217;s Class A Region 4.

The Pirates (4-1, 3-0 in region play), spoiled Cathedral&8217;s (3-1, 3-0) homecoming last season with a 46-7 victory.

Head coach Ken Beesley said the biggest need for the Green Wave would be to stop the McNairs.

Steve McNair Jr., the Alcorn legends&8217; son, along with his nephews Julius and Jason McNair ran wild last year in Natchez, and Beesley said his defense&8217;s main job would be to prevent that from happening again.

&8220;They&8217;re very athletic,&8221; he said. &8220;They&8217;ve got three McNairs. Steve&8217;s nephew, Jason is a threat to score any time he touches the ball at running back. They&8217;re a big-play, quick-scoring team. He&8217;s not only fast, he&8217;s also strong. The only difference between him and (Trinity running back Stevan) Ridley is Ridley&8217;s a little bigger.

&8220;We&8217;re not going to stop them on offense, but we hope we can make them have to sustain drives. If we can do that that mean&8217;s they&8217;re not ripping off big runs.&8221;

Last year&8217;s 46-7 loss still stings Beesley today, and he feels Cathedral has a much better shot to stay in the game this time around.

&8220;Last year we were out of the game five minutes into the first quarter,&8221; he said. &8220;If we can play well for the first half I think we&8217;re going to have a chance to upset them. We can&8217;t let them get ahead of us.

&8220;I don&8217;t think they&8217;re quite as good as they were last year. This year depends more on McNair. We have to stop him. Tackling is going to be key. We have to tackle well.&8221;

Beesley felt his team would need a near-perfect game to top the Pirates.

&8220;I&8217;m not going to say we can&8217;t beat them, but we&8217;ll need to play error-free football,&8221; he said. &8220;The thing about when you&8217;re playing this team is you never have a safe lead. If we get a lead, I won&8217;t be bringing anybody out.&8221;

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Franklin County at West Marion

After yet another dramatic, thrilling game last week in its win over South Pike, the Franklin County Bulldogs will finish out their four-game road trip with West Marion tonight.

West Marion started out the season 2-0, but has since lost three games in a row to East Marion, Tylertown and Columbia.

The Bulldogs (4-1) will look to move to 2-0 in region play with the win.

Crystal Springs at Jefferson County

The Jefferson County Tigers will have the chance to move into the driver&8217;s seat in 3A&8217;s Region 6 with a home victory over Crystal Springs tonight.

Crystal Springs heads into the game 4-1 overall, and 2-0 in region play. The Tigers (3-2) are 1-0 in region play.

Crystal Springs&8217; lone loss came to Hinds AHS, who Jefferson County topped 42-12 last week.

Game time is set for 7 p.m.

South Pike at Wilkinson County

Wilkinson County (0-5), playing its fifth home game in its first six games, will try to get on the winning track tonight when they host South Pike (2-3).

Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.