Natchez faces former district foe Friday

Published 12:04 am Thursday, November 12, 2015

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Bulldogs will hit the road for the opening round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A playoffs against a team that’s become familiar to the Bulldogs.

The (4-6) Bulldogs will face a (10-1) Pearl River Central team that was in the Bulldogs’ district a year ago. Head coach Henry Garner knows what to expect when his team faces the former district foe.

“They live and die by that Wing T,” Garner said. “They’ve been doing it for a while, and they’re very methodical with it and very disciplined. We have to play our ‘A game’ in order to stop it.”

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An ‘A game’ will be needed to stop a Blue Devils rushing attack that features three 1,000-yard rushers this season in Hunter Holifield, Michael Tatman and Christian Roberts.

Offensively, protecting Chris Scott will be key for the Bulldogs, Garner said. The Bulldogs will face a Blue Devil front that will feature odd and even fronts.

“Sometimes they go to a 3-4 or 3-5, and then at other times, they’ll come out in a 4-3,” Garner said. “They don’t do anything spectacular, but they come off the ball very well. They pursue very well. The only stunting they do is bringing the linebackers sometimes.”

What Garner said might give the Bulldogs the most fits is Pearl River Central’s athleticism on the defensive line, as the Blue Devils tend to drop linemen in coverage. Pearl River Central’s quickness and length on the defensive line will likely generate pressure on Scott, who will be making his first start in a playoff game as a sophomore quarterback.

Garner believes Scott will have opportunities to find playmakers Travez Lyles and Malik Byrd on the outside.

“If we can get outside on them, and if we can pass block well, our passing game should get to them pretty good,” Garner said. “We can run on them, but it will mostly have to be outside or straight up the middle.”