The Saints get ready to face the Chiefs Friday night

Published 12:40 am Thursday, August 23, 2007

NATCHEZ — The Tensas Academy Chiefs will be at a disadvantage when they take on the Trinity Episcopal Saints Friday at 7 p.m.

David King will be entering his tenth season on the Saints’ sidelines while Joe Coats is in his first season at Tensas, taking over for longtime head coach Chris Jacobs. King has coached the Saints to two MPSA Class A State titles.

King had a lot of praise of Tensas’s new head football coach and that he will continue to lead the Chiefs the way Jacobs did before he moved to Tennessee.

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“We don’t know much (about Tensas). We heard a little from their jamboree,” King said. “But they’ve hired a very successful coach named Joe Coats, who was a very successful coach in the Louisiana public schools. Tensas’ boys know our boys and our boys know Tensas’ boys, so it will be a hard-fought contest. We’ve had some success against them the last four times.”

Trinity has 24 players on its roster while Tensas will have much fewer players than that.

“We’re short-handed, so that’s going to compound the problem,” Coats said. “They’re going to out-personnel us simply on numbers. We’ve been working on conditioning. I’m new. We’re slow in the learning process.”

King said that both teams seem to be down in numbers this season and going into Friday night’s game, he said the main thing is the safety of the players because of the intense heat.

“We’re not going to be in as good of shape as we normally are when the season begins because of the heat,” King said. “We’re going to have to play ourselves into shape.. But the kids are ready to go.”

Trinity, which went 12-2 and won the District 7-A, South State and State championships, was moved up to Class AA and is in District 3-AA. Tensas Academy, is now in District 6-A and will have eight district opponents instead of the four it has had in recent years.

“I know our fans are cautiously optimistic about being in AA,” King said. “But our kids will play hard and give it everything they’ve got. This is one of three games we’ll be favored this season, so we need to step up. They have a lot of pride in their program.”

And while Tensas won’t have to deal with Stevan Ridley, who graduated and is now at LSU, the Saints’ running game will still present the Chiefs’ defense with plenty of problems.

“I really don’t know much about this year’s team,” Coats said. “They’ve got another kid who’s a good running back in R.J. Fleming. He looks like he’s plenty quick.”

And even though they lost a key player from last year’s State title team in Ridley, senior Parker Brumfield returns as the Saints’ starting quarterback and he will have plenty of options in Fleming, senior wide receivers Clint Eason and Matthew Freeman, junior wide receiver Wells Middleton, and senior tight end Jordan Vance.

“We’re going to be diverse. We’re going to run the ball and throw the ball as even as we can. Depends on what the defense gives us,” King said. “I’m sure (Tensas) will be a well-schooled team. I hope to kick off the season on a good note.”

Another thing Tensas will have to deal with is Trinity’s speed to the edges. “We’re going to try to contain that. You can’t coach speed,” Coats said. “We’ll try to widen out and keep them contained. You can’t leave the middle too soft, though.”

Coats also said another way his team will try to keep Trinity’s offense contained is by having long-sustained drives.

“We’ll try to control the ball and keep their offense off the field. We’ll try to run the ball a lot,” he said. “But we’re short on numbers. What we’re doing is basic.”