Natchez’s senior quarterback back under center

Published 12:01 am Friday, September 28, 2018

NATCHEZ — The Natchez High School Bulldogs will get their starting quarterback back on the field Friday night when they host the West Jones High School Mustangs in an MHSAA Region 3-5A game.

Kickoff at Tom F. Williams Memorial Stadium is set for 7 p.m. Natchez High is 3-1 overall and 1-0 in region play after knocking off Wingfield High School on the road 28-7. West Jones is just outside the Mississippi A.P. Class 5A poll and is 4-1 overall and 1-0 in region play after shutting out Forest Hill High School 21-0.

“I was proud that we made the adjustments and the guys executed those adjustments,” Natchez High head coach Roy Rigsby said about what his biggest takeaway was in last week’s win.

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The Bulldogs will get senior quarterback Paul Hargrave back under center this week after he missed the Wingfield game.

Rigsby said he was most pleased with how the offense played for third-string quarterback and senior James Singleton.

“I was proud of the fact that you’ve got somebody in a critical position, the team had to progress,” Rigsby said. “If it weren’t for penalties, we would have had a lot more points.”

The Bulldogs will also be seeking revenge after the Mustangs came away with a 46-15 home win. Even though this year’s game is at Natchez High, defeating West Jones will not be easy.

“They’re fundamentally sound and they’re tough. They’re consistent in what they do (offensively),” Rigsby said. “The main thing about them defensively is they have one of the best defensive linemen in the state. Their defense is strong, fast, tough, sound. They’re one of the best groups I’ve seen in a long time.”

Rigsby said both the offensive line and the defensive line will have to have a big game for Natchez High to knock off West Jones.

“The offensive line will have to step up and give everything they’ve got. The defensive line has to perform well. We may not be as talented as their group, but we have to give our best effort,” Rigsby said.

As for how practice has been this week, especially with all the rain that has fallen in Natchez the last several days, Rigsby said, “We were able to get some in, but we had to go inside (Wednesday). It comes with the territory.”

Port Gibson at Jefferson County

FAYETTE — Coming off a bye week, the Jefferson County High School Tigers return to action Friday at 7 p.m. when they host the rival Port Gibson High School Blue Waves for homecoming and the Region 7-3A opener for both teams.

Jefferson County capped off a three-game undefeated road trip with a stunning 14-12 overtime win at Class 6A Terry High School back on Sept 14. That brought the Tigers to 3-1 overall.

“Last week, we took the opportunity to work on fundamentals – blocking, tackling. Just trying to stay healthy. Trying to keep practice as close to game situations,” Tigers head coach James Herrington said.

Port Gibson finally picked up its first win of the 2018 season last week when the Blue Waves went on the road took care of Amite County High School 48-16. They are 1-4 overall.

And though the Blue Waves do not have nearly the same record they did going into last year’s home game against the Tigers at 4-2, Herrington knows that his team cannot take Port Gibson lightly.

He said that the quarterback position is what concerns him the most about the Blue Wave’s offense. And that quarterback is senior D’marious Hicks.

“He leads the team. As he leads, so the team goes. We have to make sure we contain their big plays. Corral him and slow him down,” Herrington said.

And with less-than-ideal field conditions expected Friday night, Herrington said that his defense will have to play under control and not get any unnecessary penalties, like those that hurt them in a 20-16 loss last year.

As for what concerns him the most about the Blue Wave’s defense, Herrington said, “Their overall team speed. They’re not a big group, but they’ve to quick players who run to the ball. We’ve got to make sure that all our ball carriers hold on to the ball with both arms, both hands in these wet conditions.”

Herrington said that despite this being homecoming week, the players have been very focused in practice this week and they know what’s at stake these last four games.

“We’re going to have to be focused down the stretch. Make the season last as long as we can for our senior group. They know how important it’s going to be with it being a region game,” Herrington said. Last year, we were in a three-way tie and got knocked out by a team that won only won game. They understand that points and mistakes make a big difference this time of year.”

Herrington also said that with both teams so dependent on running the ball, he said the outcome will be decided by which team runs the ball the best and which team can stop the run.

“If we continue to do what we’ve been doing, we’re going to make a valiant effort to run the ball and stop the run. Also, which offensive line can control the line of scrimmage,” Herrington said.

Wilkinson County at Franklin County

MEADVILLE — Two teams going in opposite directions will face each other Friday at 7 p.m. when the winless Franklin County High School Wildcats play host to the surging Wilkinson County High School Wildcats for homecoming in the Region 7-3A opener for both teams.

Wilkinson County is 4-1 overall after defeating Kemper County High School at home 49-0 last week. In that game, Freddie Byrd III threw five touchdown passes to four different receivers.

For the second year in a row, Franklin County is 0-6 overall heading into this match-up. Last week, the Bulldogs lost at home to defending Class 3A state champion Jefferson Davis County 43-0.

“We haven’t been healthy. We’ve had a lot of injuries on both sides of the line,” Bulldgos head coach Trey Woodard said. “We have to execute better. Coach better. We just have to be better.”

Of course, records should not mean anything when these two teams battle it out on the gridiron. Last year’s game in Woodville was a close one with Wilkinson County holding on for a 15-13 win.

And that’s what Wildcats head coach Kenneth Brown is trying to instill into his players this week during practice.

“You’ve got to look past their record. They’re Franklin County. Just because they’re 0-6, that doesn’t mean anything. Any team can beat you regardless of how well you’re playing,” Brown said.

Woodard said when he sees Wilkinson County on film, he sees a team that is very athletic.

“Their linebackers are very talented. Their passing game is very good,” Woodard said.

When asked what concerns him the most about Franklin County despite their winless record, Brown said, “They’re always aggressive. They want to come out you hard. Get in your head and make you do things that you shouldn’t do. So you have to be able to meet their aggressiveness.”

When asked who on his team will have to step up for the Bulldogs to pull off the upset, Woodard said, “The whole team. Everybody will have to play well.”

Brown said that several key positions on offense will have to have a big game for the Wildcats to come out victorious Friday night.

“Hopefully, our quarterback can continue to do good. Receivers can get open. Our line can give our quarterback time to throw. Running game can run the clock and keep their offense off the field. But it all stars down front,” Brown said.