Jefferson Co., Natchez in unfamiliar positions as rivalry resumes

Published 1:06 am Wednesday, August 27, 2008

NATCHEZ — One of the biggest rivalries in the area has a little different feel to it this year.

That’s because after many years of looking up at Natchez High, Jefferson County has found itself looking down on the Bulldogs for the last 365 days after their 30-27 win last season.

It’s something that Natchez High coach Lance Reed doesn’t want to see repeated this season.

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“(The loss) is something our kids have talked about for a year now, and now we have the opportunity to get back at them,” Reed said. “It was the kind of loss you never forget, and it’s been on our minds for a calendar year.”

While it was a bitter loss for Reed and Natchez High, it was a great win for the Tigers, who had not beaten the Bulldogs in many years.

Herrington himself played against Natchez as a player only once, and lost 14-7.

“It was definitely a sweet win for me and all our fans after enduring years of abuse from our neighbors in Natchez,” Herrington said. “It was an outstanding win for the community as a whole.”

But for Jefferson County to make it two wins in a row over the Bulldogs, they will have to get great line play, Herrington said.

“It all starts up front with the offensive line,” Herrington said. “It was the same thing I said last year. The game will be won up front. Whoever dominates the defensive and offensive line play and doesn’t turn the ball over will most likely be the winner.

“We’ve got a pretty big front, and we expect them to take over and impose their size. If we can get our offensive line rolling, we can have success.”

Herrington said his defense will also be looking to stop Natchez senior running back Willie Newman.

“He’s a big part of what they do on offense,” Herrington said. “He’s a senior and one of the most experienced players they have. We are definitely looking to come out and put the clamps on him.”

The Tigers also want to get in the face of sophomore quarterback Javon Washington early and often as well.

“We’re going to look to get after him and rattle him,” he said. “It’s always good to try and rattle a young quarterback. We’re definitely looking to get after him pretty hard.”

Reed knows the Tiger defense is coming, and said the Natchez coaching staff has challenged the Bulldog offensive line to not let the defenders get to Newman and Washington.

“We are really challenging our line play,” Reed said. “We have to have good line play. (Jefferson County’s) guys are big and physical and will give our line a challenge. If we can protect and control the line of scrimmage, we have a chance. It all starts up front for us.”

One thing that Jefferson County won’t be lacking for is confidence. Last season’s win made sure of that.

“That win last year could have been the win that gives the teams in the future confidence,” Herrington said. “It lets them know just because we’re 3A and they’re 5A, if you prepare properly and play disciplined, it doesn’t mater what level you are, you can win if do things necessary to win.”