Cats, Dogs set to tangle

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 30, 2010

MEADVILLE — For Wilkinson County and Franklin County, the new season is under way.

Although both teams started the regular season back in August, the Bulldogs and the Wildcats will square off at Franklin County at 7 p.m. Friday for both teams’ first district game.

For the Bulldogs, defending the home turf is important, but head coach Ricky O’Quinn said that goes for any district team they play, not just Wilkinson County.

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“It’s important being a home game, and we have three of our five district games at home,” O’Quinn said.

“As far as the rivalry is concerned, every game from here on out is a rivalry game. We’re going to be the underdog in most of those games, so we just have to keep fighting.”

Wilkinson County head coach Elbert Lyles also said his team understands the magnitude a district game has on the Wildcats’ playoff hopes.

“You want to win every game, but our staff and players know that you have to win district games to get into postseason play,” Lyles said.

“No doubt everyone wants to win that first district game. We want to win it, and I imagine Franklin County wants to win it. Everyone’s looking forward to playing, and hopefully we’ll come out on top.”

When the teams line up Friday night, O’Quinn said his Bulldogs would be facing a team that can both run well and pass well.

“They’re a very good team that plays well on both sides of the ball. They have two guys committed to Mississippi State (Devin Fosselman and James Maiden), and that’s pretty good for 3A football,” O’Quinn said.

“They’re 4-1, so we’ll have our work cut out for us.”

Despite a tough start, O’Quinn said the tough non-district schedule his team has played helped make his players better.

“Our guys are full of spirit. I know we came out 2-4, but we don’t want our guys to get down,” O’Quinn said.

“What we did before this game doesn’t matter, because really our season starts on Friday, so we’re keeping our guys upbeat.”

And Lyles said he realizes just how tough the Bulldogs’ non-district schedule has been.

“We’re not going to be misled by their record. We know they’re a good football team and they’ll be ready to play,” Lyles said.

“They’re still an aggressive football team, and they still get after you like they’ve always done. Milton Griffin is a really good speedster for them, and they have some nice-sized linemen. One in particular is their right tackle, (Demechery) Hickingbottom, who’s a heck of a football player.”

Franklin County has had the Wildcats’ number the last couple of seasons, but Lyles said he doesn’t think his players are out for revenge.

“I don’t think it’s a revenge factor as much as it is wanting to win. They never mention revenge, but they have a desire to win. That’s their main concern,” Lyles said.