Cathedral host powerhouse MRA

Published 8:06 pm Thursday, August 19, 2021

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NATCHEZ — As Cathedral head coach Chuck Darbonne looked out to the football field covered with morning dew Thursday morning, he said coaches and volunteers painted the yard lines, but they still need to paint the numbers, hash marks and the midfield logo.

Cathedral opens its season with Madison Ridgeland Academy at 7 p.m. Friday. MRA went 12-0 last season and averaged 38.9 points a game. While Darbonne has a history with MRA, having graduated from there 21 years ago. He does not believe Cathedral has a series history with the patriots.

“As far as I know, we don’t have a series history with them. I know we haven’t played MRA recently,” Darbonne said. “We are looking forward to it. They are ranked 1st in Class 6A. They have won the last two state championships in 6A. We are looking forward to the step-up in competition to see where we are right now.”

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MRA opened its season with a 58-32 defeat to Greenville Chrisitan. Greenville is ranked No. 17 in the state of Mississippi, according to MaxPreps, and MRA is ranked No. 21.

“They are a program with a lot of success,” he said. MRA is a program Darbonne said he hopes his team can one day become. Moving up in classification to 5A, he wanted to up the competition level.

“We needed to play some more competitive teams,” Darbonne said. “What better team than MRA to start our season. It will teach our kids where we need to be when we play teams in our district and our classification in general. I think that is going to help us.”

Friday night will be the first opportunity the Green Wave has to hit someone else, he said. They have finished their fourth week of practice this week.

He anticipates MRA bringing a lot of fans because they are No. 1 in 6A. It should create an electric atmosphere for the first game of the season, he said.

“I am pumped,” Darbonne said. “I know we are looking forward to it. It doesn’t get any better than Friday nights in D’evereux Stadium.”

Cathedral has executed well in practice. Their intensity has been present, he said. All of the players know their responsibilities. Most of the team are playing at a high level, he said.

To beat MRA, the Green Wave has to control the turnover battle. Extra possessions create more opportunities to score. Another key to victory is winning the war in the trenches. Executing at a high level as they have practiced is crucial.

“We can’t turn the ball over, and we need to get a couple of turnovers early from them to steal momentum,” Darbonne said. “The second most important is to win the line of scrimmage on offense and defense. With some of the inexperience we have there, I’m looking forward to what we can do there. We are looking forward to what they can do in a game-like situation. If we play that way, we will be hard to beat every Friday night.”