from staff reports
The Meridian Star
Northeast Lauderdale is fresh off a stinging 21-13 loss at Lamar School in Week 5. This week, the Trojans will host the Forest on Friday night.
Both teams are coming in at 3-2, so one team will fall to even on the season.
“We're ready to try to get things turned around after the loss to Lamar,” Curt Blackburn. “We need to get some positive things happening, get some confidence back, look for something good to happen.”
The weather, like elsewhere, caused the Trojans to rely on the their run game as the ball was unthrowable. Blackburn said he liked what he saw in the rain and if things aren't going well tonight, could resort back.
As for sizing up Forest, the Bearcat's physicality cause a few nerves.
“I've been telling our kids all week, they're a big group of kids that are going to use their size to their advantage,” Blackburn said.
The Trojans will have running back Stevie Sanders back from injury. He returned last week and saw game time, but Blackburn said he has made progress this week in getting closer to 100 percent.
“That's a positive for us,” he said. “Even though we did get beat, we came out of it fairly healthy.”
Bulldogs hungry for a win
The Clarkdale Bulldogs are still looking for that first win after another blow out in Week 5 at the hands of Richton, 35-0.
This week, they'll make the trek to Jackson to take on St. Andrews. Head coach Wes Roy said that if they can cut out most of last week's mistakes, they'll keep the game interesting.
“We want to be a physical, running football team and there are times we show flashes of that,” he said. “We made more mistakes last week, in that game, than we did probably for all the other games combined. We had turnovers, we had bad snaps, false starts, offside penalties. It was a bad night.”
Roy said they've been a chunk of this week stressing getting something going on offense and picking up some yardage. For that to happen, he needs some play makers like Austin Thomas to repeat last week's performance and Justin Goodwin to get hot again.
Without a win this season or last, keep the team's heads up would sound like the hardest part, but Roy said the team has been responding well, despite four double-digit losses in the first five games.
“We've had another good week of practice,” Roy said. “After we've had some tough games on Friday nights, I'm pretty proud of the way they are continuing to practice.”
Raiders resume district play
After upsetting 4A public school Northeast Lauderdale, the Lamar School football team heads back into district play as the Raiders (4-1) travel to Copiah Academy tonight at 7.pm.
With only four playoff slots available in MAIS AAA Division II, Barnes said each one of the Raiders' district games will have a playoff-like feel.
“We have a lot of momentum, and we just got to keep that going,” Barnes said. “We can't let anything happen these next two weeks. The only loss we have in our division is Jackson Prep, and I feel all the schools in our division will lose to them.”
While Copiah Academy (1-4) might not look like a threat to Lamar (4-1), Barnes warned his players not to lose focus on the long trip down to Gallman.
“They are a team that hasn't had very much success, and we are going down there,” Barnes said. “Any time you get in that situation, the key is coming out, playing well and not giving them any momentum. If you give them some chances and they take advantage of it, all of a sudden it opens the flood gates.”
Despite throwing the ball 26 times against Northeast last week, Barnes said he plans to keep his offense balanced and keep defenses guessing.
“We just have to keep people off balance,” he said.
Russell Christian back on track
A couple of wins have made all the difference for head coach Nate Ballard and the Russell Christian Warriors.
RCA (2-2) comes into tonight's home matchup against Porter's Chapel Academy fresh off a 32-14 win over Heidelberg Academy. Many wrote off the Warriors after back-to-back blowout losses to start the season. Coming off a bye week, Ballard now has his team in position to be above .500 for the first time this season.
“We feel real confident in what we are doing offensively now,” Ballard said. “Defensively , we still have some things to work out in some of our pass coverages, but we feel good about it.”
The Warriors will need to step up that pass coverage in a hurry as Porter's Chapel will look to utilize its short-passing game in order to get the ball in the hands of their speedy athletes. Despite the Eagles' speed, Ballard is confident in his own group of athletes. The Warriors have shown ability to keep up with fast teams previously this season.
“I feel like we have the athletes to keep up with Porter's Chapel.” Ballard said.
Ballard said he hopes to establish a run game by getting senior running back Arik Washington the ball early on in the game.