Big-time matchups loom Friday

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A battle of undefeated teams that are also the No. 1 ranked teams in their respective classifications will take place Friday night when the MAIS Class AAA Oak Forest Academy Yellow Jackets take on the Class AA Centreville Academy Tigers.

Kickoff at Centreville Academy is set for 7 p.m. Both teams will go into this game with identical 9-0 records. But only one will leave undefeated.

“They are strong. They are the strongest team we’ve played all season. Physically strong,” Centreville assistant coach Brian Stutzman said.

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And the Tigers must match their physicality on both sides of the ball if they are to defeat the Yellow Jackets, who are coming off an impressive 44-27 win over previously-undefeated Cathedral High School. Centreville took care of Amite School Center 56-14 last Friday night.

As for what the Tigers’ defense must do to slow down Oak Forest’s high-powered offense, Stutzman said, “We’ve got to do our individual responsibilities. Stay at home. Gang tackle.”

Stutzman said that with this being a match-up of undefeated teams, the players will have a good mindset during practice this week.

“We have to approach this as a playoff game. Even though they’re a AAA team, from here on out, we have to approach this with the mindset that this is a playoff game. Because next week, the playoffs start for real,” Stutzman said.

Stutzman added that for the first time in several weeks, every player on Centreville’s roster will be dressed for the game, which is also senior night.

“Everybody’s got the green light to play,” Stutzman said. As for how practice has gone so for this week, he said, “(Monday) we had a good day of practice. It was more of a mental practice.”

When it comes to what the offense must do to limit Oak Forest’s possessions, Stutzman said, “We have to protect the ball. We cannot turn the ball over. Be able to block and the get the first downs and score some points.”

Wesson at Franklin County

MEADVILLE — Even though the Franklin County High School Bulldogs are currently on top of MHSAA Division 7-3A, they cannot rest on their laurels with an improved Wesson High School Cobras team coming to town Friday night.

Wesson (4-5) ended Jefferson County’s five-game winning streak last Friday night with a stunning 33-16 victory and put the Cobras in a second-place logjam with both Jefferson County and Hazlehurst High School at 2-1 in the division standings.

Franklin County (5-3) defeated Crystal Springs High School 25-13 to stay undefeated in the division standings with a 3-0 mark. Despite that win, there are few things head coach Anthony Hart would like to see some improvement on — especially after the Bulldogs got off to a slow start against the Tigers last Friday night.

“De’Martre Collins threw the ball well. We didn’t do a good job catching the ball. He had a good night throwing the ball last week. We need to clean up some things on special teams. Just do some things a little better here and there,” Hart said.

Hart said that practice early in the week has gone well so far. And the Wesson team they Bulldogs will face Friday night is not the same one they defeated 34-6 last year.

“They’ve got three or four offensive skill guys that are good. They are solid on defense. A solid team as far as what they do,” Hart said.

Hazlehurst at Jefferson County

FAYETTE — The Jefferson County High School Tigers must not only regroup from the loss to Wesson but also turn their attention to a Hazlehurst High School Indians team that also has the postseason in their sights.

Kickoff in Fayette between the Indians and the Tigers is set for 7 p.m. Hazlehurst took care of Wilkinson County High School 34-8 last Friday night to get back in the Division 7-3A race.

“Right now our division is pretty even. You’ve got us and Hazlehurst and Wesson having identical (2-1) records and Franklin County is just one game ahead of us. It’s going to be a dogfight to see who wins this division,” Jefferson County head coach James Herrington said.

Herrington said Jefferson County (5-3) got away from the things last Friday night that led to their long winning streak.

“We did things that we haven’t down — turning the ball over, dominating in rushing yards and holding our opponents as far as rushing yards. In those five games, we dominated time of possession. (Wesson) out-gained us on the ground,” Herrington said. “This time of year is going to be very important that you run the ball and just as important is to stop the run. We also gave up three big (plays) over 40 yards. All those things combined in that loss.”

Herrington also said that the Tigers will go into Friday night’s game against Hazlehurst relatively healthy – except for the dings and bruises that go with having played eight games already.

Even though Hazlehurst will enter the game with a 3-5 overall record, Herrington said the Indians have gotten better and stronger in recent weeks.

“They have a big offensive line. They’ve played good defense. The running game and defense are two things we will definitely focus on this week. No. 6 (Malik Gray) and No. 4 (Anfernee Jordan) are the two wings for them. They run the double wing. No. 6 has blazing speed. The fullback, No. 2 (Michael Miller), runs the ball well. They do use the quarterback (Laddarius Williams) in the running game. All four of those guys are capable of going the distance,” Harrington said.

Northwood-Lena at Block

JONESVILLE — Nearly everything seemed to go right for the Block High School Bears last Friday night in their emotional 38-19 homecoming win over a much-improved Logansport High School squad.

Led by Raymond Plummer and Taylor-Perron Krause, the running game was the best it had been all season. And a defense that had been ripped apart in five of its first six games showed up in a big way as well last week.

With that win, Block (2-5, 1-1) kept their postseason hopes alive, but the Bears cannot overlook a struggling Northwood-Lena Gators team in another district game Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

“We’re focusing on the Block Bears. Getting better as a team, offensively and defensively,” Block head coach Benny Vault Jr. said. “I feel good about the way we played last week. I’m excited about the way they played the other night. I think they’ve finally reached their potential. I like to see something different in their eyes.”

What Block will see from Northwood-Lena is a mirror image on both offense and defense. The Gators run a two tight end, double wing offense. On defense, they run both a 4-3 and a 4-2-5 set, the latter being the same one the Bears run.

And while Vault said he expects to see more of Plummer and Perron-Krause this week, what he would like to see is more of a passing game to take the pressure off the running game.

“We’ve been working on the passing game the last week and a half, two weeks. We’re too one-dimensional. We’re going to try to throw the ball more,” Vault said.

Crystal Springs at Wilkinson County

WOODVILLE — The two teams that are at the bottom of the Division 7-3A standings will not only be playing to get out of the cellar, but also for pride when the Wilkinson County High School Wildcats play host to the Crystal Springs High School Tigers.

Kickoff at Wilkinson County will be at 7 p.m. Friday.

Both teams are 2-7 overall and both teams have identical 0-3 records in division play.

Wildcats head coach Kenneth Brown said that practice has been “so far, so good. We’re still working. Still chugging at it. Working on our mistakes. The season hasn’t gone like we hoped it would.”

The same could also be said for Crystal Springs. Like Wilkinson County, the Tigers have been in some games this season, but have not been able to get over the hump because of costly turnovers and penalties.

Brown said he would like to see his team play a complete game without those costly mistakes.

“We’ve been telling the kids all year, the other teams are not beating us, we’re beating ourselves. We really would like to put a game together in which we eliminate turnovers. Making clutch players defensively and offensively,” Brown said.

Brown said last Tuesday morning he had seen some film on Crystal Springs, but not a whole lot.

“They’ve got some good athletes. They run the ball some. They’ve got a good quarterback (Jeriko Morris) when they use him at quarterback. They like to move him around some,” Brown said. “They’re not that big, but we’ve just got to go to work.”

Christian Home Educators Fellowship at WCCA

WOODVILLE — After getting shut out by MAIS Class A No. 2-ranked University Academy of Cenla 62-0, the Wilkinson County Christian Academy Rams now takes on the 5-5 Christian Home Educators Fellowship (CHEF) Patriots Friday night.

Kickoff at WCCA for senior night is set for 7 p.m. And the 2-7 Rams need a win in the worst way to have some momentum heading into the playoffs. Even if it’s against a team that is not in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools.

The Patriots are coming off a 58-12 win over Assembly Christian in a Christian Educators of Louisiana district game.

Efforts to reach WCCA head coach Kyle White on Tuesday were unsuccessful.