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Natchez High readies for homecoming contest vs. North Pike

 

NATCHEZ — Last Friday night, the Natchez High School Bulldogs were humbled and defeated by a North Pike High School team that is better than its record would otherwise indicate.

One week later, Natchez High has an opportunity to make sure that does not happen again when it hosts Forest Hill High School for homecoming in a pivotal MHSAA Region 3-5A game for the Bulldogs at 7 p.m. Friday.

North Pike went into last week’s home game against the Bulldogs with a 2-6 record. But as head coach Roy Rigsby pointed out, they could have easily been 5-4 instead. Could have the Bulldogs’ players taken the Jaguars too lightly because of that?

“That’s something we discussed. Sometimes you have to see it for yourself,” Rigsby said. “I tell them over and over do not look at their record. They had three game that could have easily won.”

And the Bulldogs’ defense had no answer for Jaguars quarterback Alijah Martin, who had five touchdown runs, two of them going at least 50 yards, to go with one touchdown pass.

“They came and did a scheme that we had to adjust to. Other than that, it was missed tackles and a phenomenal athlete,” Rigsby said.

That loss put Natchez High at 5-3 overall and in a tie for third place with Brookhaven High School at 3-2 in Region 3-5A.

Now they must focus their attention on a Forest Hill team that has lost seven of its last eight games, including a 48-0 loss to Laurel High School last Friday night. The Patriots are 2-8 overall and 1-4 in region play.

“With them this year, they’re very aggressive. They’re a better team than what their record says. They’re a very good team, but their record doesn’t indicate it. I’m hoping our lost last week, we understand that we have to play at a higher level.”

And with this being Natchez High’s homecoming game, there are distractions that come along with it leading up to the match-up. But the Bulldogs cannot afford another slip-up if want to make the Class 5A playoffs.

“I’m not as worried about it. The focus that concerns me is the preparation. If they come with a high level during practice, then I’m not concerned. They came out focused in practice (Monday),” Rigsby said.

Rigsby said that the defense will have to play much better than it did last week for the Bulldogs to come out on top Friday night.

“Our defense will have to make tackles. We’re going to have to be more sound defensively,” Rigsby said. “We had some players who played at a high level, but we have to play at a high level as a team.”

Senior quarterback Paul Hargrave threw for over 400 yards and two touchdowns and had a touchdown run last week. Defensively, Ryon “Champ” Rigsby had about 10 tackles before suffering a concussion and coach Rigsby said he will be out for Friday night’s game.

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