Monday notebook: Back-and-forth game ended in Cathedral’s favor

Published 12:01 am Monday, September 19, 2011

Cathedral’s Khalil Brice gets tackled by Stringer’s Mason Parker during their game Friday night at Cathedral. (Eric Shelton \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Cathedral High School’s 36-33 come-from-behind win Friday night saw a wide variety of emotions.

The Green Wave went ahead early 7-0, only to watch Stringer High School score three unanswered touchdowns to make it 21-7 after the first quarter.

Both teams scored once in the second quarter, but the main attraction in the second seemed to be several controversial calls by the referees. Cathedral was called for a personal foul penalty that the coaches didn’t like too much, and later in the quarter, Stringer running back Cressie Aldridge was tossed after he committed a personal foul.

That’s not even getting into being down by three touchdowns, only to come back and win it in the final two minutes of play. Especially when two crucial fumbles in the first half kept Cathedral from scoring.

“That’s probably the biggest (array) of emotions in the game I’ve ever dealt with,” Green Wave head coach Ron Rushing said.

“We had a lot of stuff early. We’d drive down the field and turn it over, we’d hold them and they’d bust a run. We’d drive it down, turn it over again… it was back and forth the entire game.”

While Daniel Huffines’ 56-yard, go-ahead touchdown reception looked like a miracle play on the surface, Huffines said he wasn’t the only one that could’ve made something happen on that play.

“Actually, there were about three of us open,” Huffines said. “Tyler (Flemming) was in front, Khalil (Brice) was in the middle and I was in the back.”

But Huffines also said it was important for the Green Wave defense to make a stop with just more than a minute to go in regulation.

“A minute is a lot of time in football, especially since their offense was pretty stout tonight,” Huffines said, “so I was like, we’ve got to calm down and play solid defense for a minute, and then we can celebrate.”

And the defense stepped up to the task, with Ishmael Blackmon interception a pass on Stringer’s ensuing drive to end the Red Devils’ night on offense.

“That’s big,” Huffines said. “That’s just trusting your teammates. I have faith in everybody on this team, even the backups and even the backups’ backups. I love this team.”

Rushing could only give credit to his players for making things happen despite an early scoring deficit.

“In the first half, I thought I did a poor job calling some plays,” Rushing said. “We didn’t make some plays (in the first half), and all that (game-winning play was) is athletes making plays.”

Cathedral (4-0, 2-0) will travel to Salem High School Friday.

Natchez High

With a bye week, the Bulldogs (4-0) will turn their focus to district play, beginning Friday when the Bulldogs travel to Meridian High School.

“We’re just working on the basics, trying to get physically ready,” NHS head coach Lance Reed said after practice Thursday. “We spent some time in the weight room, and we’ll be focused on Meridian (this week).”

With an off week, it’s sometimes hard to keep the team in game shape. But Reed said bye weeks can be useful if used correctly.

“You have to make the best out of them,” Reed said. “Our emphasis is on improving academics and getting ready for the long haul.”

The Bulldogs look to face a much tougher conference schedule this fall, but Reed said his team isn’t shying away from the challenge.

“Our region will definitely be very challenging,” Reed said. “We have a tough region, but we welcome the challenge. As always, you have to get prepared for it.”