Cathedral answers coach’s call for improvement

Published 3:45 pm Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ron Rushing called his Cathedral players out.

After taking a 49-17 loss to Jackson Prep, Rushing was upset, not because of the outcome, though. It was the posture and demeanor his players demonstrated in the second half — giving off the impression they had thrown in the towel —that sent Rushing over the edge. He accused his players of quitting.

“It affected us greatly,” senior running back Dee Fleming said. “You never want to let your coaches down, but you never want to let the guy next to you down either. It changed the way we look at things.”

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A grumpy Rushing had his “come to Jesus” meeting with the team Monday, and really for the first time in three weeks, the Green Wave progressed as a football team.

Thirty minutes before kickoff against Brookhaven Academy Friday, Rushing sat in his office when assistant coach Kurt Russ walked in, smiling.

“Hey, they said, ‘Don’t take us out,’” Russ told Rushing. “They said, ‘We’re going to show him we’re not quitters.’”

“Good,” said Rushing, leaning back in his chair.

Mastermind? It might be the oldest trick in the book — calling out your team and angering them to the point where they come out for the next contest motivated to prove a point — but it certainly worked in the form of a 41-6 victory Friday night.

Cathedral starters wanted to stay in, but a pleased Rushing pulled them midway through the second quarter.

“I liked hearing that they didn’t want to be taken out,” Rushing said after the win. “We didn’t play with passion and emotion these last few weeks, and it was good to see that tonight.”

In the victory, Cathedral scored 41 points by the 8:28 mark of the second quarter. By that point, Fleming had totaled 147 rushing yards, 22 receiving yards and four scores.

The offensive line blew defenders off of the ball, Connor Mire found his open targets and the Green Wave were clicking on all cylinders. Meanwhile, the defense allowed only one first down in the first half before the second unit relieved them of duty. It was a dominant performance on all levels.

“They responded well,” Rushing said. “I told them, ‘I know you played hard against Jackson Prep, but the body demeanor, you can hide.’ We have a chance to be a really good football team, but we’re nowhere near that right now. I don’t want them to look back and be disappointed.”

While Cathedral was handling business at home, Adams County Christian School was doing the same down the road. Wilkinson County Christian Academy — a team that has shown great improvement from a year ago and has already tied its total wins from 2014 with two — was hanging with ACCS in the early goings, but then the Rebels flexed those muscles and separated themselves from the Rams in the second half, beating WCCA 34-0 in the process.

Now, at this point in the season, I feel confident in saying Carlos Woods and George Scott is the best quarterback-wide receiver tandem in the Miss-Lou this season. Woods has added an elusive touch to his game, allowing him to create more time in the pocket with his feet, and whether he’s stationary or mobile, Woods has proven to be the most accurate deep ball passer. On the receiving end, Scott blows past defenders, creating separation immediately at the snap of the ball, and uses his long limbs to snatch balls out of the air. Most of the time, though, he simply has to just run underneath Woods’ accurate deep balls.

With both ACCS and Cathedral winning by blowout Friday night, it has me once again thinking about the dream matchup that looms on Oct. 9. Both teams are dominant defensively, both teams have dynamic playmakers (Fleming, Scott, Woods, CHS’ Jardarius Anderson, ACCS’ Shaverick Williams) and both teams have two of the best coaches in the state with Rushing leading Cathedral and David King leading ACCS.

I can guarantee you this — with as much pride on the line in that October matchup, no player on any team will even contemplate uttering the word “quit.”