Teams prepare for big games

Published 12:01 am Friday, October 17, 2014

FAYETTE — Coming off an emotional, hard-fought win at Wilkinson County last Friday night, the Jefferson County Tigers will now focus their attention to an improved Wesson High School Cobras team.

Kickoff between the Tigers and the Cobras in this MHSAA Division 7-3A encounter at Wesson will be at 7 p.m. Friday. Jefferson County (5-2, 2-0) extended its winning streak to five games after rallying for a 22-19 win at Wilkinson County’s homecoming game. Wesson (3-5, 1-1) picked up its first division win of the season last Friday night when it defeated Crystal Springs 45-31.

Jefferson County head coach James Herrington said he and his team learned a lot from last week’s win over one of its nearby rivals.

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“The game is never over. If you work hard and stay disciplined, the game is within reach,” Herrington said.

On the final drive, freshman wide receiver Dy’kevis Ford caught the game winning touchdown from senior quarterback Rashard Brown. Herrington said that was a big play for a freshman to make.

In addition to Brown and Ford, several other players stepped up for the Tigers in the fourth quarter.

“Rashard Brown played like a senior. He played smart and he played savvy. He made good decisions in that last drive. He took care of the ball. He managed the game well. The defense made stops when we needed them. Even though Arthur Norton didn’t have one of his better games, his presence alone helped us,” Herrington said.

Logansport at Block

JONESVILLE — Block High School head coach Benny Vault summed up last Thursday night’s 33-0 loss to St. Mary’s High School simply: “St. Mary’s came out and played. We just came out.”

Now, Block (1-5, 0-1) must focus on the Logansport Tigers (4-2, 1-0) in what is essentially a must-win game for the Bears in a LHSAA District 3-1A game. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Friday.

Staying focused this week during practice will be essential for the players because this is also Block’s homecoming game.

When asked how he will be able to keep the team focused on Logansport and not the distractions that come with homecoming, Vault said, “I don’t know if I’ll be able to. After getting their brains beat, I think they’ll be self-motivated. Now they realize they have to play every Friday night.”

Vault said he watched a little bit of film on the Tigers Sunday. He said that Logansport is a senior-laden team, and the Tigers have got good size on both the offensive line and defensive line to go with a good quarterback (Logan Spears) and a good running back (Deanthony Daughtry).

Vault said for the Bears to defeat the Tigers and stay in the district race, they will need to get back to playing their physical style of football and not just show up.

“They have to come out and play football. We haven’t been physical the last couple of weeks. We’ve got everybody back. Hopefully, it’ll translate into better play for us,” Vault said.

Franklin County at Crystal Springs

MEADVILLE — Last Friday night, the Franklin County Bulldogs earned their biggest win of the 2014 season when they defeated the defending MHSAA Class 3A South State champion Hazlehurst on the road 42-34.

And that win not only extended Franklin County’s winning streak to three games, but it also kept the Bulldogs (4-3 overall) in a first-place tie with Jefferson County in the division standings at 2-0.

Up next for Franklin County is a road trip to Crystal Springs and a division match-up with the Tigers. Kickoff Friday is at 7 p.m. and head coach Anthony Hart said it’s up to the players to avoid a letdown after a big win.

“I think finishing high in the (division) is important,” Hart said.

Even though a lot of local teams had their practices this week affected by Monday afternoon’s severe weather and heavy rain, that was not the case with Franklin County.

“(Monday) was fall break for us. Between church services on Sunday, we practiced some. We did our Monday on Sunday and gave them Monday off,” Hart said.

Hart said there is one player in particular on Crystal Springs’s roster that does concern him the most.

“They probably have one of the best players we’ve seen this year. He plays quarterback, but they move him around other positions. They run multiple positions on offense. They’ve got other players (on offense) but he’s the main guy. We’ve got to make sure we know where he is,” Hart said.

Crystal Springs runs a 4-3 defense and Hart said the Tigers’ defensive linemen and linebackers are athletic. He added that the offensive line will have to do a good job blocking them to open up holes for the running game.

Wilkinson County at Hazlehurst

WOODVILLE — When Wilkinson County and Hazlehurst took on each other late in 2013 regular season, the MHSAA Division 7-3A championship was on the line. Hazlehurst came away with a 58-40 win at Wilkinson County.

Then the same two teams faced off in late November last year with the Class 3A South State Championship and a berth in the state title game on the line. Again, the Indians came out on top, defeating the Wildcats 36-22. That game was also played at Wilkinson County.

What a difference a year makes. Come Friday night, Wilkinson County and Hazlehurst will once again square off, only this time with plenty of youth and inexperience on both sides of the ball.

“We lost a lot of good players last year. We’ve got a new team this year. We have mostly sophomores with a few juniors and a few seniors sprinkled in. But those sophomores need to grow up,” Wildcats head coach Kenneth Brown said. “They lost some good kids from the last couple of years. They’re sort of like we are. They brought the former (head) coach back in. They’ve got a new offensive system.”

Brown added that the young players who were on last year’s team did not get a lot of playing time. The same could be said for Hazlehurst, which has a lot of freshmen and sophomores and very few juniors and seniors.

Both teams are coming off tough losses at home. Wilkinson County lost in a heartbreaker to Jefferson County 22-19 in the closing minutes at homecoming. Hazlehurst’s attempted comeback fell short as the Indians fell to Franklin County 42-34.

And each team will need a win to keep their postseason hopes alive. Wilkinson County (2-6, 0-2) cannot afford another loss in division play. Hazlehurst (2-5, 1-1) needs a win to stay with Franklin County and Jefferson County in the division standings.

“Some people say we’re not having the success we should be having. We’ve got to make plays and not do things to hurt ourselves. When we need to make plays, we’re not getting it done. That’s mainly because of youth. Hopefully, we’ll get some breaks,” Brown said.

Kickoff at Hazlehurst will be at 7 p.m. Friday.

Centreville at Amite School Center

CENTREVILLE — Coming off an impressive win over Central Private School last Friday night to clinch the outright MAIS District 6-AA championship, the Centreville Academy Tigers will turn their attention to the Amite School Center Rebels this week.

Kickoff in Liberty between the Tigers and the Rebels is at 7 p.m. Friday.

Centreville assistant coach Brian Stutzman said that the Tigers’ 52-19 win over Central Private was a team effort.

“We had a good offensive output. And defensively, they played really well,” Stutzman said.

After looking at film on Amite School Center, Stutzman said he sees a much-improved team from last year.

“On offense, they run the ball really well. They run sort of a spread, but it’s more of a power-oriented offense. Their quarterback, No. 12 (Davin Booty), makes them go. He does a good job running and throwing,” Stutzman said. “On defense, they do a good job stopping the run. It’s more of a 4-3. I don’t know one particular guy that we need to keep an eye on.”

Stutzman added that this is an important game because it still counts in the power points.

“It’s a local rivalry game. The kids know each other. They play hard. Even though we’ve won our district, we’ve still got a lot to play for,” Stutzman said.

University Academy of Cenla at WCCA

WOODVILLE — The good news for Wilkinson County Christian Academy is that it picked up its second win of the season, 61-34 over Acadiana Home School last Friday night.

The bad news? If the Rams are to keep the momentum going, they will have to play as close to a flawless game as possible if they are to upset one of the top teams in all of MAIS Class A in the University Academy of Cenla Lions. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Friday.

While WCCA’s win upped its record to 2-6 overall, University Academy of Cenla will go into the game with a 7-1 record after the Lions defeated Christian Home Educators Fellowship (CHEF) 36-24.

After watching film on University Academy, WCCA head coach Kyle White said the Rams are going to have their work cut out for them.

“They’re a good ball club. They’re going to try to spread us out, but they’re a balanced offense. They’ve got some good athletes,” White said.

Even though by record a win by WCCA over University Academy of Cenla would be classified as an upset, White doesn’t necessarily see it that way.

“We’ve played much better lately. The kids are playing hard. They’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve had a tough schedule this year,” White said.