Cathedral catches break with school redistricting

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 16, 2009

NATCHEZ — Cathedral High football may have a little easier road next season.

With the re-districting of MHSAA football, four teams have been removed from Cathedral’s 1A Region 4.

Two of those teams gave the Green Wave a hard time this past season.

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Cathedral lost in back to back games to Stringer (48-33) and Puckett (57-14), both of which are now 2A schools.

Puckett went on to win the 1A state title in 2008 with an undefeated season.

“You know Puckett is probably going to be in the top five in the state every year,” Cathedral coach Craig Beesley said. “They’ve got a very good, very physical team. It’s not that we were glad we lost them, but they’re tough.”

The Green Wave beat Pelahatchie 35-25 and Pisgah 48-27. Those two teams have also moved up to 2A.

Cathedral went 5-5 this past season, and Beesley said the toughest part was that every game was a region game and that they played the toughest teams consecutively.

Now the region is down to eight teams — Sebastopol has joined Region 4 — and the Green Wave can get a breather by spacing out the schedule.

“We won’t have a 10-game schedule with all region teams,” Beesley said. “It will give us a chance to schedule some non-region teams that we want to play.”

Beesley has already made contact with teams he wants to play and is waiting to hear back.

But while Cathedral caught a break, 3A-Region 7, which contains Franklin County, Jefferson County and Wilkinson County, just got a little tougher with the addition of Hazlehurst.

North and South Pike are both out of the region, but they were replaced by Hazlehurst, an 8-3 team that reached the second round of the playoffs this past season.

Franklin County played the Indians twice this past year, defeating them both times, but Bulldogs coach Trent Hammond said that doesn’t mean much.

“It’s (a team) you would rather see go somewhere else,” Hammond said. “We now have one of the toughest regions in the state to try to win.”

Region 7 is also home to Tylertown, the 3A state runner-up this past season and the only team to beat Franklin County.

Hammond said add to that Jefferson County, an athletic Amite County team and a much-improved Wilkinson County team, and the Bulldogs will get no rest next season.

“Teams in this region are going to have to work hard to play every night,” he said. “It’s kind of a tough deal. I wish they could have split up a few of us a little bit and made some of the other regions a bit tougher.”

Wilkinson County coach Elbert Lyles said it’s no surprise Hazlehurst is back in Region 7. They bounce in and out every couple years, he said, and they make the region the one to beat.

The region boundaries are made based on schools’ proximity to one another, with some consideration for history and rivalries.

Lyles said the Wildcats are just working on their own preparedness for next season.

“We’re trying to work hard so we can be ready mentally more than anything,” he said. “We want to get some momentum playing our non-district teams so we can be ready for the district schedule.”

While it will be tougher to win a region title now, Hammond said his main concern is getting through the regular season to playoffs.

“It’s going to be rough,” Hammond said. “You’ll want to win, but then you will hope that you’ll be healthy enough to play on into the playoffs.”