Crossroads ahead for NHS football

Published 12:01 am Sunday, November 16, 2014

Will Natchez High School ever dominate the Friday Night Lights again?

Ever is a strong word, but if the worst-case scenario transpires this offseason, we could go several years before a playoff-contending team is put back onto the football field.

That worst-case scenario would be the departure of Natchez head coach Melvin Pete and freshman quarterback Chris Scott, who would likely leave the school if Pete departs in any way.

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Before we go any further, lets backtrack. Earlier this week, my phone was constantly buzzing with rumors that Pete was fired as head coach, but those whispers in the wind proved untrue. Pete is still the head football coach at Natchez. Conversations were had behind closed doors about his future, and sources close to the situation said Pete and the administration are working out whatever problems existed. Pete and Natchez-Adams School District officials would not comment on the issue. No information was provided as to why conversations were had, and despite some Natchez fans sounding the alarm, this could prove to be a small issue with everyone staying put, trying to rebuild Natchez.

Still, the rumors were startling. From an athletics point of view, losing Pete would be detrimental to the program, because the Bulldogs would lose a state-championship caliber coach and potentially the best prospect in the area.

Simply put, Scott is the future of Natchez football. With more muscle added to his frame, Scott’s roughly 6-foot-3 height and arm strength will attract big-time college coaches to Natchez. And should he decide to play for another area school, which has become a common theme in the area, he’ll make that school an instant contender. Pete gave Scott the opportunity to showcase his awesome abilities early into the season, but Pete took a smart approach, slightly drawing back on Scott’s playing time throughout the year to avoid shaking his confidence.

The coaching tactic, along with a reluctance to trust Pete, provided some friction between the two, so much so that Scott contemplated switching schools before the season. However, he stuck it out, learned from Pete and grew to appreciate the man that coaches him today.

When I went to Natchez this week to talk to Bulldog defensive backs for our last rendition of Perfecting the Position, which will come out in Monday’s edition, I ran into Scott in the locker room. I talked to him about this season, and he revealed to me that under Coach Pete, he felt the sky was the limit for this program. Scott realizes his potential and now understands how Pete elevated his game late in the season.

Of course, he got to see that success in two of his last three contests, as he threw for five touchdowns against Brookhaven High School and added six against Wingfield in the season finale.

So now, with the experience earned in year one, Natchez has a quarterback that can lead back the resurgence, giving Natchez fans a reason to boast again. That’s if no changes are made.

The proverbial fork in the road is slammed right dab in the middle of Natchez football’s journey back on top. With Pete and Scott — the seemingly packaged deal — heading up the charge, the Bulldogs look to be in good shape, judging off of Pete’s ability to scramble and put together a potent offense that won five games with a brutal schedule after arriving on scene roughly a month before the season.

He wasn’t stubborn in his play calling, making adjustments to defensive alignments and finding ways to get his University of Louisiana-Monroe-bound playmaker Sidney Davis the ball. Pete turned a potential train wreck into something beautiful, and for that, one has to believe he can transform promise into winning results.

The cards are laid out on the table. The way they’re played out by the administration and those involved making future decisions will have huge ramifications on Natchez football and every student athlete involved. If Pete stays, Scott stays. Would be a shame if this summer turned into the Chris Scott Sweepstakes.


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