Natchez, Wilkinson County set for Week 1 clash

Published 12:02 am Friday, August 21, 2015

WOODVILLE — A line will be drawn in the sand tonight as Natchez High School travels to take on Wilkinson County High School.

Henry Garner, who will be making his debut as Natchez head coach, will square off with longtime friend and Wilkinson County head coach Kenneth Brown.

“I’ve been knowing coach Garner for a long time,” Brown said. “We are good friends, but (Friday) we are rivals. It is football time, that is what it is all about.”

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Natchez, which finished 5-6 last season, won last year’s contest 33-7. However, Garner said he knows the Wildcats won’t be an easy opponent.

“They are always ready to play,” Garner said. “They have speed and can spread the field, but also have a good running game. Defensively, they play aggressive at all times. We are just going to go in and see how we matchup, but we feel good about our game plan.”

The game plan will center around sophomore quarterback Chris Scott, who threw for more than 1,000 yards and 20 touchdowns last season.

“They’ve got a good quarterback,” Brown said of the Bulldogs. “And they have two or three tall receivers that they spread out on you. We know they are going to try and throw the ball with Scott, especially with the receivers they have. I think this game comes down to the game Scott has.”

Both coaches said they have been pleased with their team during practice this week leading up to their season openers.

“We had a few ups and downs, but (Wednesday) was the best day of the week,” Garner said. “We came out and the kids showed real signs of intensity. We are excited about seeing how we do in a full game.”

Brown said the fact that Natchez is the Wildcats’ first opponent has only driven his team to work harder.

“The kids have been here working hard and doing what we ask them to do,” he said. “There is that excitement with it being the first game, but playing Natchez makes it even sweeter in a sense. We know what is at stake.”

A win for either team would be big, but for quite different reasons.

“For the team, it should boost morale some,” Garner said. “And for me, it is business as usual.”

For Wilkinson County, the potential victory could be program changing.

“When you play a 5A school, you feel like you are at a disadvantage because the larger school should have more quality athletes,” Brown said. “But if you can pull off a win, it is a great thing for your program. We are coming to play, the kids are ready, and we are looking forward to the challenge.”

Kickoff between the Bulldogs and Wildcats is scheduled for 7 p.m.