Wave seek third round

Published 12:01 am Friday, November 18, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Cathedral’s Jadarius Ealey carries the ball during their game against ACCS Friday, Aug. 19 at ACCS.

NATCHEZ — Cathedral High School faces a familiar foe in Nanih Waiya High School as the Green Wave (11-1) are set to host the second round of the MHSAA Class 1A playoffs tonight.

Nanih Waiya eliminated Cathedral in the baseball playoffs this past spring, and the Green Wave are also looking at the second round as a chance to improve upon last season.

Cathedral was eliminated by Dexter High School in the second round of the 2010 playoffs, something Green Wave head coach Ron Rushing said is definitely a motivating factor.

“We sat out there last year after that second game, and I wanted them to remember how it felt and what it took to get to that point,” Rushing said. “Our goal has been to get a little bit further than we did last year.”

But in order to do that, the Green Wave defense will have to buckle down against the potent Nanih Waiya (9-3) rushing attack.

“They’re a really physical football team,” Rushing said. “They have a lot of tradition, to where they’re usually in the first or second round of the playoffs, at least.

“They’re a running team, and they run out of the traditional pro sets and the I formation. They’ll spread it out a little, but they still try to run out of the spread.”

Rushing said Nanih Waiya is averaging approximately 300 rushing yards a game while averaging only 50 yards through the air.

“We have to stop the run and make them beat us throwing the ball,” Rushing said.

To do that, Rushing said the Green Wave defense would both try to load the box and stunt and blitz out of the 3-5 formation.

“We’ll try to cross up their assignments, but I think it’s going to come down to being tough enough and physical and accepting the challenge of getting up if you get knocked down,” Rushing said.

On offense, Rushing said he’s not going to change anything, and production will once again come down to how well quarterback Caleb Upton is protected.

“Everyone sends pressure after Caleb, so we’re kind of used to that,” Rushing said. “We’ve seen about every blitz (package) there is, so we’re just going to have to have good protection up front and execute.

“As long as we give him time, we have four, five or even six guys that run routes really well. They’re going to find openings sooner or later. If we give him time, Caleb does a tremendous job finding them.”

Kickoff is at 7 tonight at Cathedral.