Green Wave look to put Patriots on upset alert

Published 5:00 pm Wednesday, August 17, 2022

NATCHEZ — Cathedral High School’s varsity football team will have its hands full Friday night when the Green Wave travel to Madison for it season-opener against the three-time defending MAIS Class 6A Madison-Ridgeland Academy Patriots. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Last year at D’Evereaux Stadium, MRA took care of Class 5A Cathedral 56-7. Green Wave head coach Chuck Darbonne said his team was “a little star-struck” when it took on the Patriots to begin its 2021 season. He does not look for that to be the case again this year.

“Our kids are confident in their abilities and their chances of playing against MRA,” Darbonne said.

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It would also mean a little extra if the Green Wave are to pull off the upset against an MRA team that did graduate a lot of players from last year’s state title team. Especially considering this is the same school Darbonne himself went to over two decades ago.

“It happens to be my alma mater. I played football there and I graduated from there in 2000,” Darbonne said. “Obviously, it means a lot to me to coach a varsity game. We can’t get caught up (in the hype). They make a lot of big plays. They’re a quality team. We have to stick to the things we do well for us to have success.”

Cathedral took on Leake Academy and Pillow Academy in the Tri-County Academy Jamboree last Thursday. Darbonne said there were some things we was pleased with as well as some things that need to be worked on.

“The effort was great. Both games, we were ready to play. This week we tried to eliminate the confusion we had in the Leake game. We’ve straightened that thing up,” Darbonne said. “We’re looking solid going into the MRA game. In the jamboree games, we were able to move the ball offensively. We made a few simple mistakes here and there and we weren’t able to take advantage. Whenever we lined up properly, we played good defense. We were confused with some things Leake was doing. We were able to fix that in the Pillow game.”

Darbonne said that offensively, quarterback Noah Russ, wide receiver Kaden Batieste, and the offensive line will have to have big games while defensively, defensive lineman Tanner Wimberly as well as linebackers Jake Hairston and Jordan Henry will need to do the same for the Green Wave to pull off the upset. 

As for what the main thing the Green Wave will be focusing on in practice this week, Darbonne said, “Just being in the right place at the right time. Executing assignments. We have a lot of guys who started last year. Just doing our basic things that we look at as keys to being successful on offense and defense.”

And while MRA did lose a lot of key players to graduation, this season’s Patriots may still be a force to be reckoned with. In their season-opener last Thursday night, they defeated defending Class 3A state champion Greenville Christian School 48-6.

“They graduated a good class. They had multiple guys sign football scholarships. They’re not in the usual situation they’re in of having to replace key starters in key positions from last year,” Darbonne said.