Friday in Review: Opposite approaches

Published 1:26 am Monday, August 29, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Jefferson County High School quarterback Monroe Barnes Jr. delivers a pass during their game Friday night against Natchez High School. NHS won the game 27-20.

NATCHEZ — When Jefferson County High School and Natchez High School took the field at Tom F. Williams Memorial Stadium last night, they brought with them two very different plans of attack on offense.

Jefferson County aired the ball out, throwing for 239 yards on 42 attempts. Natchez did its damage on the ground, by piling up 403 yards rushing.

The Bulldogs’ ground game prevailed, as Natchez won the contest 27-20.

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“(Running the ball) is kind of who we are now,” Natchez coach Lance Reed said. “We really came into the game with that game plan.”

Jefferson County quarterback Monroe Barnes was 18-for-42 in passing with one interception, 239 yards and two touchdowns, but the Tigers’ heavy passing attack was not as premeditated as Natchez’s running game, head coach James Herrington said.

“I wasn’t aware of (throwing that many passes),” he said. “We were put into situations that forced us to put it in the air. (Barnes) only had one interception, and I don’t know how many completions he had, but I’m sure it wasn’t really a bad night. But, I wasn’t planning to throw that much.”

Running back Larry Chatman and quarterback Derrian Johnson led the Bulldogs’ ground game. Chatman carried the ball 22 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns, while Johnson rushed 25 times for 203 yards and two scores.

“(Chatman and Johnson) played well,” Reed said. “They are athletes, and we try to give them the ball and let them do what they do best. They are strong parts of our offense, and we are going to give them the ball and allow those guys to make plays.”

Reed said his offensive line is another big reason Natchez had so much success on the ground.

“They are a solid unit, and we rely heavily on their production,” he said. “We do what we can to use those guys to be a catalyst for the offense.”

Natchez will continue to try to focus on its running game this season, Reed said.

“We’re definitely going to look to establish the run, but our passing game is one that we are constantly working on as well,” he said.

Reed said Jefferson County’s high number of pass attempts tested his young secondary Friday night.

“They got a lot of work, and we have a lot of young guys who got work (in the secondary),” he said.

Natchez will travel to Ferriday Friday looking to start its season 3-0. Jefferson County (1-1) will play host to Port Gibson.

The disparity between offensive styles was showcased even more in Friday night’s battle between Centreville Academy and Trinity Episcopal.

Trinity used a 281-yard passing performance to come from behind to beat Centreville 33-28 on a last-minute 35-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Scott Turner to Tip McKenzie.

Centreville dominated the ground game, rushing for 314 yards, and holding Trinity to just 36 yards on the ground.

Turner finished his night with three touchdown passes for the Saints on 14-for-28 passing.

Centreville controlled the ball for much of the first half, and built a 21-7 lead by halftime on three rushing touchdowns.

The Tigers found trouble when they tried to put the ball in the air, however. Centreville threw nine times and only completed three for 38 yards with three interceptions. Two of those passes were intercepted by McKenzie, and he took one back for a Trinity touchdown. McKenzie actually returned his other interception for a score as well, but the return was called back on a penalty.

The back-and-forth battle, that saw two ties and five lead changes, was filled with miscues by both teams. Centreville turned the ball over five times, and Trinity turned it over twice. Each team also had a punt blocked that set up touchdowns.

Trinity head coach David King said he expects many of Trinity’s games to go down to the wire this season.

“That’s the way this (MAIS)-AA league will be,” he said. “We’re going to have a lot of games like this.”

Trinity will play its first home game of the year Friday against Bowling Green. Centreville will travel to Parklane Academy.