Cathedral’s 2014 title helping team confidence in 2015

Published 12:01 am Monday, August 31, 2015

Cathedral High School’s Dee Fleming receives a handoff from Connor Mire during practice. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Cathedral High School’s Dee Fleming receives a handoff from Connor Mire during practice. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Cathedral High School started its season against St. Aloysius with emotions running high.

Going against Cathedral’s arch nemesis, new starting quarterback Connor Mire took the snap with the Green Wave on his first offensive possession as the starter, climbing the pocket and looking for an open receiver. Instead of an open target, Mire found a St. Aloysius defender, who sacked him and forced a fumble. Cathedral turned the ball over on the first play of the 2015 season, but the play didn’t even come close to having an impact on the outcome.

Cathedral forced an unsuccessful field goal attempt before regaining possession and marching the ball down the field before defeating St. Aloysius 31-6. So much for rough starts.

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“Older guys don’t panic,” Rushing said. “They’ve been there before.”

A poised Cathedral in a dangerous situation is the result of a championship mindset that still lingers from the 2014 squad. After winning the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A State Championship, the Green Wave return nine starters on defense and seven on offense, allowing Cathedral to take on a championship mindset heading into the 2015 season.

Such experience is beneficial to Rushing, who believes experience is an invaluable factor.

“It gets to a point where you don’t have to react and everything becomes second nature,” Rushing said. “Without a doubt, I think that’s a big advantage.”

For the players, it adds an interesting dynamic. The team changed its mindset into more of a defensive-oriented, potent rushing team in 2014, so heading into the 2015 season, the team is looking to keep that identity, along with additional schemes Rushing looks to employ. Jardarius Anderson, who led the team in receiving last season with 851 yards and 13 touchdowns, said having familiar faces allows the coaching staff to add more exciting wrinkles.

“You can do more things than what you did last season,” Anderson said. “We can have the same look, but we’re able to add twists.”

Along with those twists comes a potential two-quarterback system, using Mire in the short-medium passing game, while subbing in Andrew Beesley for the read-option threat and deep ball ability.

But whether you’re a new starter or not, the environment that Rushing and his team created last season remains the same — play at a championship level.

“We have a bullseye on our back, so everybody has to step up and play to the expectations,” Fleming said.

As Cathedral continues to ride the wave of momentum, those expectations grow on a weekly basis, especially after beating Madison St. Joseph 35-0.