Murray a game-time decision for Bulldogs

Published 8:53 pm Thursday, October 14, 2021

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NATCHEZ — The Natchez High School Bulldogs will look to end their four-game losing streak Friday night, but it won’t be easy as they play host to the Wayne County High School War Eagles in a pivotal MHSAA Region 3-5A game for both teams.

Kickoff between Wayne County (5-1, 3-0) and Natchez High (3-4, 0-3) is scheduled for 7 p.m. The War Eagles held on for a 20-14 win in overtime over Brookhaven High School while the Bulldogs lost at Laurel High School 52-26 last week.

Senior quarterback Kyreek Murray is expected to start under center after injuring his knee last week in the Bulldogs’ third series of the game. And that came after they jumped out to a 14-8 lead.

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“I believe he’ll be able to go. It’ll be a game-time decision,” Natchez High head coach Randy Craft said. “But I believe he’ll be ready to go.”

As for how practice itself has gone so far this week, Craft said, “They’ve gone pretty good. We had fall break Monday and Tuesday. We were able to get out early and get our practices in.”

After last week’s lost to the Golden Tornadoes, Craft said there are several things the Bulldogs are working on improving this week in getting ready for a good Wayne County team. 

“We’ve been improving on our techniques. Reading our keys. We’re going to have to read our keys. Make sure we’re discipline on both sides of the ball.”

While Natchez High has been going the wrong way, Wayne Count has been going in the opposite direction with five straight wins under its belt.

In order for the Bulldogs to get back to their own winning ways and keep their slim playoff hopes alive, Craft said, “We played some very tough teams the last four weeks. We have to match their intensity and play to our level if we’re going to beat Wayne County. We have to have at least three takeaways defensively and limit our turnovers offensively.”

The War Eagles will run multiple offense with the spread and wing-T. Defensively, they run a 3-3 stack, which is something the Bulldogs don’t usually go up against when they have the ball. This kind of defense employs five defensive backs with the purpose of keeping the opposition from hitting the big plays.

“We’ve been seeing more four-man fronts the last couple of weeks. We’re just going to have to adjust to a three-man front,” Craft said. “They try to limit the big plays and keep everything underneath. Our goal is to try to knock the top off their defense as much as we can.”

As for what impresses him most about Wayne County, Craft said, “Their quarterback makes good decisions. He makes good decisions and good reads. They have one defensive lineman who is pretty active. We’re going to have to slow him down a little bit.”

Craft said the Bulldogs will have to play well on offense and get the ball to their playmakers, junior running back Traylon Minor and junior wide receiver Mike Williams, while defensively, they will have to slow down the War Eagles and get the ball back to their own offense.