Natchez, Wilkinson County eager to start 2017 campaign

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 18, 2017

As Natchez High School travels to Woodville today for its season opener with Wilkinson County, it’s possible anything could happen by the end of the fourth quarter.

The two teams have faced each other during Week 1 for the past six years, splitting the results with three wins apiece.

This year, the Bulldogs and Wildcats are just as ready to notch their first win of the season.

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“It’s always fun going to play them,” Natchez coach Roy Rigsby said. “They are always competitive, and they are scrappy. You want someone that is going to fight, and they are going to do that.”

Wilkinson County — an MHSAA Class 3A school — has earned all three of its wins in the opening-week series by one score or less. Its biggest margin of victory came in its most recent 2015 win, topping the Bulldogs, 33-27.

Wildcat coach Kenneth Brown said though his team is smaller than Natchez — a Class 5A school — he thinks the meeting has become a staple in recent years.

“It’s developed into a really good game. It’s a game I feel we need to play, and I feel they need to play,” he said. “It’s a fun thing — the kids know each other, the coaches know each other. As long as I think we can be competitive, we will welcome the challenge.”

Natchez claimed last year’s matchup 26-14, yet failed to win another game in 2016.

Though its 1-10 record was not exactly what Rigsby was hoping for, he said his team could benefit greatly from an early boost of confidence this year.

“Everything you do and say to win gets magnified. When you lose, it doesn’t,” he said. “It becomes like a snowball effect and keeps building and building — it’s momentum.”

With a victory to begin 2017, Rigsby — in his second year at the helm — said he hopes the Bulldogs would gain something to hold onto for the remainder of the year.

“I’m not seeking any comfort, I’m just seeking improvement,” he said. “As long as I can continue to see improvement, then I’m going to continue to push them even harder going forward. You want to set the standard to the highest you can set it and reach as high as you can go.”

Brown hopes the same for his Wildcats.

“That’s what you always shoot for — a win in the first week,” he said. “Hopefully it parallels to the rest of the season. It gives something the kids to feel good about.”

After ending last season at 8-3, Brown expects this year’s matchup with the Bulldogs to be nothing less than exciting.

“We are looking forward to it,” he said. “I wish them nothing but the best, except for when we play them.”

Rigsby said he is just as eager for Natchez to take the field.

“It’s just like going down the street to play your brother,” he said. “I’m more excited that these guys are excited. To know that they love competition and love the game, it means everything to me.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.