Cathedral ready for playoffs

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cathedral High School running back Jadarius Ealey looks downfield as University Christian School’s Adam McPhail gives chase during the game Friday night at Cathedral. The Green Wave will host West Oktibbeha this week for the first round of the MHSAA Class 1A playoffs. (Eric Shelton \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — It’s year two of the postseason for Cathedral High School head coach Ron Rushing, and the Green Wave are looking to improve off of last year’s second-round exit.

Cathedral (10-1) is set to host West Oktibbeha High School at 7 Friday night, and for the Green Wave, it will be the first time since week three of the season that Cathedral hasn’t faced an opponent from it’s district.

Rushing said West Oktibbeha quarterback Von Smith is the team’s major weapon on offense, and the Green Wave will have to play disciplined on defense to contain him.

“He was an All-State selection last year, and he threw for right at 3,000 yards,” Rushing said. “This year, he’s thrown about 2,500 yards. They scheme up well, and they’re well-coached.”

With the Green Wave defense facing quarterback Caleb Upton and the team’s offensive weapons, Rushing said he hopes that makes the defense well-prepared for that type of attack.

“We do 7-on-7 drills at least twice a week, so we’d like to think we’re used to seeing people who throw the ball,” Rushing said. “We just have to make sure to stay in our zones and be disciplined. They have four to five guys like us who can explode with the ball.”

On defense, Rushing said he’s not sure which scheme West Oktibbeha will use against the Green Wave Friday.

“They’ve been in two to three different (defensive) fronts this season,” Rushing said. “We’re used to that, though. We’re really going to have to wait until game time to see what they’re going to run.”

Rushing said it’s nice for his team to have another shot at the playoffs after getting eliminated by Dexter High School last season.

“It always feels good (to be playing in the postseason),” Rushing said. “We’ve been going at this from 16 to 18 weeks, so it’s been really long for us. It’s kind of refreshing, because the playoffs are kind of a new season.”

The fact that so many players from last year’s team are still playing for the Green Wave should be a big help, Rushing said.

“Nerve-wise, I don’t think we’ll have any problems,” Rushing said. “If anything, (getting eliminated) made them more focused. We want to improve upon last year.”

Rushing said he didn’t know off the top of his head how the Class 1A playoff bracket looks, but he knows Stringer and Dexter high schools would have to play each other before having a shot at Cathedral. Cathedral beat Stringer on a last-second play Sept. 16 and lost a close game to Dexter Oct. 20. Both teams gave Cathedral more trouble than any other.

“I think for any team from here on out, our guys will be focused on them,” Rushing said. “This is a smart group, and I think they remember those games well. The only team they need to worry about right now is West Oktibbeha.”