High school football draws to a close

Published 12:06 am Sunday, November 15, 2009

NATCHEZ — It’s hard to believe that the high school football season is drawing to a close.

The regular season is over for every team in Mississippi and Louisiana and the drive to the state championship is in full effect.

It seems just yesterday that I was basking in the heat pining away the hours until I would be down on the sideline with my clipboard taking stats for area teams.

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Once the season finally got here, area fans were treated to some great teams and some great games.

The season got off to a great and emotional start on the opening night, as the Natchez High Bulldogs retired the number 59 of former lineman Larry Brown Jr., who was tragically killed in a car accident Christmas Day last year.

Not only did the school recognize Brown with a ceremony at halftime, but the team paid its own tribute by scoring 59 points in the game, the final eight coming on a last-second touchdown and two-point conversion.

It was just the start to a whirlwind season for the Bulldogs.

The season included two blowout losses to Meridian and Brandon, but also thrilling wins over Oak Grove and Hattiesburg, two perennial powers Natchez has had trouble beating in the past.

It continued in the first round of the playoffs on Friday.

Natchez scored a touchdown with 35 seconds left and then held on for a 19-17 victory over Petal after the Panthers missed a 53-yard field goal attempt at the horn.

The season has also been topsy turvey for the Trinity Episcopal Saints.

After spending two years in MAIS Class AA, the Saints dropped back down into Class A, where they won a state championship in 2006.

Expectations were high for the Saints entering the season and the team did nothing to stifle them when they raced out to a 5-0 start.

But then a rare three-game losing streak put a bit of a damper on the proceedings.

However, the Saints have recovered to win five games in a row and are back in the South State championship game after a big 43-28 win over Sylva Bay on Friday.

This season was also a season of recovery for several area teams.

Adams County Christian had struggled through two very rough seasons, winning just one game total.

And even though the Rebels fell short of the playoffs this year, their 6-5 record is a tribute to the hard work the team has put in to improve.

ACCS is definitely headed in the right direction under coach Paul Hayles.

Cathedral had one of the best in-season turnarounds I can remember in 2009.

The Green Wave were dead in the water with a 1-6 record before regrouping and winning four of their final five games to make the playoffs.

Even though their season ended Friday with a 27-7 loss to Weir in the first round of the playoffs, players, coaches and fans should be proud of the effort and fight of the team.

Good things should be expected in the future with a team that fights like that.

Ferriday also is enjoying a good season after scuffling a bit last year.

The Trojans struggled to a 5-6 record and first round playoff exit last season, but have come back strong this year.

Ferriday is 8-3 and whipped Welsh 33-14 in the first round of the LHSAA Class 2A playoffs Friday, to set up a rematch with district foe Farmerville, which defeated the Trojans 44-24 in the final game of the regular season two weeks ago.

There are five area teams left in the postseason — Natchez High, Trinity, Ferriday, Franklin County and Block — and there are still a couple of weeks to go until state champions are crowned.

Good luck to the fantastic five. I hope to be covering high school football this season as long as possible.