Green Wave enjoying good competition in spring practices

Published 4:28 pm Wednesday, May 11, 2022

NATCHEZ — Green Wave players joked and trash talked during a scrimmage Tuesday at the end of practice. Wright Graning paced 30 yards behind the ball shouting directions to his defense while Chuck Darbonne pulled offensive players aside to give them directions. 

It was the fourth day of spring football practice for the boys in green and white. Darbonne said it hasn’t felt like four full practices at all. 

Because the Cathedral baseball team made it to the playoffs, and many of the baseball team members also play football, spring practice started this year later than usual.

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While Natchez, Vidalia and ACCS will have played spring games, Cathedral did not have time to set up a spring game. Darbonne said they do plan to work out a way to have competition whether it be an intersquad scrimmage or a day of contests. 

“I don’t want to get someone hurt because we rush into a spring game. We have a couple of injuries where we want the kids to go through practice but not put them in dangerous situations,” Darbonne said. “We are trying to nurse them up injury wise. We have had about 50 players this year and we have a lot of competition.”

Cathedral will lose seniors Tyler Gregg, Paxton Junkin, Harper Jones and Christian Wright to graduation. They started on defense and offense so eight spots are waiting to be filled by the underclassmen. 

Darbonne’s hope is to push players to where they can specialize in a position and he won’t have to start as many on offense and defense. The team has more experience from last year as the upcoming senior class is 15 strong. 

Cathedral is using spring practice to facilitate competition between players. He said they have mixed up the first and second strings in practice so everyone receives meaningful reps. 

Before spring practice started, the team had a meeting. 

“We strictly defined what we needed from the seniors to be successful. They have come through and shown out. They are training the younger guys the right way and the Cathedral way of doing things. Hopefully we aren’t rehashing this next year and those kids will be ready to step up.” 

Fifteen seniors is the biggest class of seniors he has had since coaching at Cathedral, Darbonne said. It is a close knit group who like each other, they have a constant rapport which fuels competition. 

Cathedral’s end of spring practice scrimmage should be either Tuesday or Wednesday next week. Whichever day it is, it will be the last practice.

Over the offseason, Darbonne said his team had good attendance and were committed to the weight room. He has seen a boost in confidence with the players. Some of the younger kids are not afraid to challenge the older, stronger players at practice. He said half of the battle in football is mental and they are getting over it. 

The coaching staff is rewarding players who earned an average of all a’s for the year with a breakfast from Go Mart’s Deli the morning before finals. He said the reward will push players to not be complacent in the classroom and hopefully it trickles down to the football field. 

“I hope incentives like that will make it more routine for them to care about grades. It won’t be something they have to be begged to do,” Darbonne said. “They will want to make it important. It then trickles down through the rest of them. A lot of kids their habits are them by this age. We want to push them to their maximum potential.”