Natchez High’s Pete gets the last laugh with victory

Published 12:01 am Sunday, September 7, 2014

Good for you, Melvin Pete.

A few weeks back, I stuck my foot in my mouth by making the boldest of predictions and picking Ferriday to upset Natchez.

Spoiler alert — such an event did not take place last night. Instead, Pete and his Natchez Bulldogs offered up a nice serving of crow in the form of a 40-24 victory against the Trojans.

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Now, to my defense, this year was the perfect time to pick such an upset. I’m not just picking crazy upsets to drive page views and create fun altercations with the lively Natchez fans, but in actuality, there was a method to my madness.

Ferriday, who raced out to a 12-6 lead in the first quarter, proved athletic and presented the toughness needed to get physical in the trenches with the bigger Bulldogs.

That combined with Pete coming in with a month to prepare his team for the season had me believing 2014 was as good a time as any to go out on the limb.

After last night, I have a feeling Pete enjoyed taking out his clippers and chopping down that branch.

In the process, his Bulldogs have improved to a 3-0 start, which is one win shy of their win total last season.

Following the sound victory, I asked Pete what the secret was to his success, and he deflected the glory to his players.

“You have to give credit to the kids because they’re buying into what we’re coaching,” Pete said. “Because of that, we’re able to have some fun with it.”

After I started thinking about the whole situation a little more, Pete’s quote really hit home with me. Sure, the new coach situation should warrant caution for preseason hype and open the door for bold predictions like the one I made earlier this season, but shame on me for not factoring in the quality young men Natchez has on his roster.

With experienced players like Sidney Davis, John Ferguson, Nehemiah Ford and Jacorey Carter, to name a few, on the roster, the transition process is smoother than I first perceived.

You can forgive me for not knowing Pete was going to be able to get this ship sailed in the right direction so quickly, though. After all, most in the area were counting the Bulldogs out from the start.

The best of stories occur when nobody sees it coming. Sure, Pete was qualified for the job, but as I’ve said before, getting a team on the same page in a month’s time before the season is a tough chore for any coach.

Pete’s 4A state championship title he earned at Central High School in Tuscaloosa gave him legitimacy as the new head coach, but still to my surprise, he has gotten the Bulldog players to take to his coaching style. Not only that, but Pete has produced wins with a freshman quarterback taking the reins.

New coach plus new quarterback doesn’t always equal immediate success, but that’s exactly what’s happening in Natchez.

The Bulldogs are off to a 3-0 start to the 2014 season, and with the athleticism and ability of the Bulldogs’ on full showcase in Friday night’s win against Ferriday, you have to like the direction this program is taking.

A nice start, but let’s not jump the gun too early. The schedule, of course, gets harder immediately with back-to-back road trips to Warren Central and Wayne County coming up.

Still, I won’t count the Bulldogs out. Pete and his Natchez football team have taught me a valuable lesson already this year.

The next time I think about opening my mouth with another bold prediction, I’ll just stuff a sock in it.


JAKE MARTIN is the sports editor for The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or