NHS, JCHS enter Friday with different experiences in openers

Published 12:01 am Thursday, August 23, 2012

Natchez High School’s Sidney Davis carries the ball as Wilkinson County High School’s Devin Voorhies during the second half of Friday’s game at Natchez. NHS will look to rebound from last Friday’s 24-22 loss this week against Jefferson County High School. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

fayette — Jefferson County High School and Natchez High School opened their 2012 football seasons on opposite ends of the spectrum.

The Bulldogs lost a home heart breaker to Wilkinson County 24-22, while the Tigers blitzed Trinity Episcopal Day School 47-0 on the road last week.

This week the local rivals will face one another, with Natchez looking to rebound, and Jefferson County looking to stay unbeaten.

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“Anytime we get the opportunity to play Natchez, with our guys knowing each other so well and seeing each other all the time, is special,” Jefferson County head coach James Herrington said. “But at this point, in the direction we are trying to go, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We’re trying to go 2-0.”

Natchez coach Lance Reed said he expects there to be a buzz in Fayette for the game Friday.

“We have a lot of people going there, and they have a lot of people,” he said. “It’s good playing each other.”

Reed said the Bulldogs went back to work this week, and he was pleased with how they are reacting from the loss.

“We are back to our routine,” he said. “We are just attacking each practice and want to be very competitive, so we can step up our competition level and get a victory this week.”

Natchez gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown and also had an errant snap on a punt that gave Wilkinson County good field position in Friday’s loss, and Reed said special teams has been a focus this week.

Herrington said his biggest concern this week is ball control on offense.

“We had two fumbles that we were able to recover back and had one interception that came late in the game,” he said. “That was one of the things we weren’t satisfied with. We got in this week and focused on taking care of the ball, because against tougher opponents those mistakes lead you to getting beat.”

Herrington said he knows his defense will have to key on Natchez wide out Derrian Johnson and quarterback Anthony Robinson.

“I know (Johnson) is going to be a big concern on everybody’s list,” he said. “They want to get the ball in his hands in multiple ways. If we can contain him and slow him down, we stand a pretty good chance defensively.”

Natchez’s quick defensive linemen will pose a problem for the Tigers’ offense, Herrington said.

Reed said he is concerned about Jefferson County’s athletes making big plays Friday night.

“They are an explosive team,” Reed said. “We can’t let them beat us deep, and we have to offset that speed on defense.”

Herrington said the team that makes the fewest mistakes should win the game.

“We just have to work on not beating ourselves,” he said. “It’s hard enough to beat a Natchez ball club, but if we have to beat Natchez and beat ourselves, it’s almost impossible.”

Herrington said one thing he does not have to worry about is his players being ready to play.

“I had some guys this morning say, ‘Coach, I wish we could play now,’” he said.

“There is a lot of hype around this game with Facebook and Twitter. They have a lot of communication with each other, and that communication builds a lot of hype. It’s a very big game.”

The Bulldogs will visit the Tigers at 7:30 p.m. Friday.