Friday night jam

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Michael Kerekes | The Natchez Democrat — Cathedral High School’s Jake Smilo, left, and Baynard Watts square off in hitting drills Monday evening at football practice. Cathedral will host its football jamboree Friday evening.

NATCHEZ — Monday marked the first day of practicing with pads for Cathedral High School, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Cathedral is gearing up for its football jamboree set for Friday, and being able to use the pads at last is a welcome addition for Green Wave head coach Ron Rushing.

The Green Wave players competed in contact drills Monday evening during practice, and Rushing said those drills will help prepare Cathedral for Friday’s matchup against West Lincoln.

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“We’re trying to get them used to contact,” Rushing said. “We don’t want to go straight up tackling on the first day, and we’ll do some form tackling drills later (Monday) and (today).”

Rushing said Cathedral is still trying to deal with not having the extra week of practice that opening-night opponent Adams County Christian School will have when the teams square off Aug. 19.

“It goes back to not having that (extra) week of two-a-days,” Rushing said. “We would’ve been in pads last week, so we’re just trying to get caught up.”

MHSAA did not allow its member teams to start practicing until a week after the MAIS programs could start, Rushing said.

And going from shorts and a T-shirt to pads is always an adjustment of its own, Rushing said.

“It’s a little hotter, because you have more clothes on,” he said. “Since the end of last season, we’ve been working on footwork and speed, and I’m actually very pleased with our conditioning right now.”

When the Green Wave face West Lincoln Friday, Rushing said he’s going to use the jamboree game to evaluate his squad and see which players fit where.

“Any time you can get some kind of competition, you get better,” Rushing said. “It’s good to go against someone else, and we’ll be looking at personnel and positions.

“We’re gradually working our way up to playing at game speed. From the jamboree until about the third game of the season, that’s when you see the most improvement. You just have to get used to the speed of the game again.”

Trinity Episcopal will also be at the jamboree Friday, facing the Green Wave’s heated rival St. Aloysius. Head coach David King also said the jamboree will be a good opportunity to see what his players can do.

“When you have a lot of kids to replace like we do, just to be able to get out there and get some of the rust off and get some experience is going to be big for us,” King said. “We’re still just trying to figure out who can and who can’t.”

But even though jamborees are just glorified practices, King said he still wants his team to come out on top.

“When you keep score, you obviously want to win,” King said. “I don’t really look at the scoreboard unless we get into a situation where we have an opportunity to lose it.

“Mainly, I want to go out there and run some very basic plays and really just get some terminology down, and be able to tackle defensively and get lined up properly.”

Rushing also said he’s in it to win it when it comes to jamboree games.

“If I play checkers, I want to win,” Rushing said. “The mindset is going to be like last year. We’re working hard, and everyone will get a chance to show what they can do.”

Trinity will face St. Al at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Cathedral and West Lincoln will follow them at 7:30 p.m.