Natchez suffers in more than one way

Published 12:42 am Monday, September 24, 2007

NATCHEZ — It was a long night for the Natchez High Bulldogs Friday as they fell to the defending Class 3A state champion Franklin County Bulldogs 42-6.

And while Franklin County won without the services of starting quarterback Jamie Collins, who was out with an injury, the 4-0 and top-ranked Franklin County Bulldogs got out of that game without any more injuries.

“We’re alright,” Franklin County head coach Grady McCluskey said. When asked about the status of Collins for Friday night’s Region 7-3A opener at Tylertown, 4-0 overall and 1-0 in region play, McCluskey said he doesn’t know at this point.

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“When Jamie gets here, we’ll see what he can do next week,” he said.

The same, however, could not be said for the 2-2 Natchez High Bulldogs as they get ready to start Region 3-5A action at home Friday night against the 2-2 Meridian Wildcats.

Junior wide receiver Ernest Jones went down with a knee injury and fellow junior wide-out Derek Matthews suffered an ankle injury. Also, senior offensive lineman/defensive lineman Kenny Ware had a knee injury. Their status for the Meridian game is doubtful, Natchez High head coach Lance Reed said.

Ryne Tutor stepped in at quarterback and didn’t make any mistakes. He only threw three passes, but with three running backs, Alex Smith, Darnell Ford and Jordan Hunt, each going over the 100-yard mark, he didn’t have to throw the ball very much.

“I was very impressed with their team. I thought they were better than they were last year,” Reed said. “They played extremely physical. That’s what I expected out of them.”

While Javon Washington started at quarterback for the third straight week, Rico Richardson did see some time on the field. Richardson led the team in rushing with 52 yards.

“I wouldn’t say he’s 100 percent, but he’s healthy enough to play,” Reed said. “We had his arm properly secured. They had a good scheme against us. I don’t think we executed properly on offense.”

Washington struggled against a tough Franklin County defense and having two receivers go down didn’t help matters much. Washington was held to 67 yards passing and threw two interceptions. Reed added that both Richardson and Washington will play against Meridian.

“We thought they were going to score some points on us, but we did a good job holding them,” McCluskey said. “We forced them to run the ball and get away from the pass. We played well on both sides of the ball. That’s what we need to do going into district play.”

As for what kind of game he expects from Meridian Friday night, Reed said. “It’s a typical Meridian team. They’re well coached. Good defense. A lot of weapons on offense. We’re going to have to perform on a high level to win.”

As for Tylertown, Franklin County’s next opponent, McCluskey said, “They’re good. They look like they’re mostly a running team. They like to run the ball a lot. They’re a tough opponent for us every year. This year will be no different.”

Vidalia gets ready for homecoming against Jena

VIDALIA — The Vidalia Vikings will hope to have a better first half than they had against Mangham to go with its dominant second half if they are to defeat the Jena Giants in Vidalia’s homecoming game Friday night.

Vidalia finally got its offense going late in the first half as they scored 38 unanswered points en route to a 38-6 win over the Mangham Dragons.

“I told (head) coach (Bernie) Cooley we had to pick y’all for homecoming,” Faircloth said. “You don’t want to pick Ferriday for homecoming. You don’t want to pick a district opponent for homecoming.”

Faircloth said he was very pleased with his team’s running game, especially from late in the second quarter throughout the second half.

“That’s something we’ve been working on,” Faircloth said. “Our line finally came through, starting at the end of the first half. That’s what we did, run the ball right at them.”

While Vidalia’s offense was struggling until late in first half, its defense more than held its on against Mangham’s offense. And had it not been for the defense, the Vikings could easily be 0-4 instead of 2-2.

“Our defense kept us in the ball game,” Faircloth said. “We gave them field position. We had to hold them on three drives without scoring. If we can get our offense to play as well as our defense, we’ll be alright down the stretch. The defense has played well in every ball game.”

Jeremy Randall and Kevin Johnson were key in the Vikings’ come-from-behind win last Friday night. Randall ran for 158 yards and two touchdowns and Johnson had 86 yards on the ground to go with one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown.

“He did well. We’ve just got to get him to hold on to the football. He’s already fumbled the ball 10 times this season,” Faircloth said about Randall. “Kevin ran the ball well, too.”

Kwan Reynolds also had a big game for the Vikings as he intercepted two passes, one of which he returned for a 70-yard touchdown with just under six minutes to go in the game. However, Faircloth said he wished Reynolds had had just one pick.

“After the Ferriday game, I called him ‘Toast’ Reynolds because he got burned twice,” Faircloth said. “His first interception put us in a hole. We had to start at our 5-yard line. The best thing he would have done was drop that interception. It was ricochet off another player on a long throw. He’s intercepted several passes for us this year.

“He and Doug Logan are good cover people. We play man-to-man defense. We don’t play zone,” Faircloth added. “Dee Fleming, one of our other defensive backs, did an outstanding job for us. He’s just a ninth-grader.”

Speaking of Jena, the Giants were prepared to host the undefeated Ferriday Trojans last Friday night, but because of security concerns due to the rallies for the “Jena Six,” the game was moved to Ferriday. The Trojans won the game 38-22 to improve to 4-0 on the season.

While the Giants fell to 2-2 on the season, they do have a big win under their belt as they upset Iowa, then ranked No. 8 in Class 3A, a few weeks ago. Faircloth said he picked them to win their district.

“They’ve been going through all kids of (stuff). They’ve been trying to stay focused,” Faircloth said. “Here you are getting ready for a home game and at the last minute you find out you have to go on the road. They’ve got a backup quarterback and he’s done a heck of a job. We’ve lost two in a row to Jena.”

In the win over Jena, senior quarterback Kendrick Harris threw for 252 yards and three touchdowns and he added 87 yards rushing and two more scores. Donrick Harris and Montrell Tennessee each had over 100 receiving yards in that game while running back Matthew Smith had nearly 240 total yards from scrimmage.

Ferriday will look to stay undefeated this season when it hosts the Wilkinson County Wildcats in the first meeting between these two teams in several years. Wilkinson County fell to 1-3 on the season and 0-1 in Region 7-3A after a 46-12 loss to the South Pike Eagles.

The Cathedral Green Wave is coming off a disappointing 32-27 loss to long-time rival St. Aloysius. Brendan Beesley capped off the comeback from a 21-13 deficit late in the third quarter with a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown. The loss dropped Cathedral to 1-3 overall and 1-3 in Region 4-1A. Now the Green Wave must prepare for a 4-1A road game against a Bogue Chitto team that is coming off an impressive 53-14 win over Salem. The Bobcats are 4-0 overall and in region play.

The Jefferson County Tigers are still undefeated after a 44-20 win over the Amite County Trojans. Jefferson County improved to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in Region 7-3A, but it doesn’t get any easier for the Tigers as they play host to South Pike Friday night. With their win over Wilkinson County, the Eagles went to 2-2 overall and 1-0 in region play. This game could go a long way in determining who will challenge Franklin County and Tylertown in this region.

Block’s offense scored the most points this season, but its defense couldn’t slow down Buckeye as the Bears fell to 0-4 after suffering a 48-20 loss on the road to the Panthers. Block will be looking for its first win of the season when it hosts 1-3 Mangham.