from staff reports
The Meridian Star
Six days ago, West Lauderdale fought tooth and nail to come out with a Week 6 win 32-27 over cross-county rival Southeast Lauderdale.
Late dramatics prevailed, but Knight head coach Stan McCain said all the team has moved on and only focused on knocking off an undefeated Leake Central for a homecoming win tonight.
"They gone forgot all about that, they concerned about all this Homecoming stuff," McCain said. "We just got to play well, play as hard as we can and see what happens."
The biggest worry for McCain is giving up points off turnovers, which has plagued them all season.
"If we don't turn the ball over, we have a chance to be in the ball game," he said. "We've done well this year when we haven't turned the ball over and when we have, we haven't done so well."
The Gators are bringing in an offense with a 158-40 point differential. McCain said the defense needs to kick into full gear to make clean tackles while the offensive line stays on blocks so the Knight offense has a chance to score.
"We have to take advantage of any opportunities we can get," he said. "We really don't depend end on just one guy … if our line has a good night, we'll be okay."
Tigers start district play
At Southeast Lauderdale, Week 7 brings Homecoming and the start of district play on Friday night.
The Tigers are fresh off a late loss to West Lauderdale, but are looking to bounce back strong and start the second half of the season on the right foot.
"They rebounded real good this week and had a good week of practice," head coach Charles Black said. "We've got district games now and ultimately that's going to decide our play off fate."
Both teams have had a rough first half – the Tigers are 2-4 while the Warriors are 1-5 – so both sides will be looking for a confidence boost to keep playoff dreams alive.
"It'd be huge [to win], because then you're 1-0, you build some momentum instead of starting off 0-1 in the hole," Black said.
However, he expects Choctaw to come in ready to play as they always do and believes they are well matched this season.
"We've been seeing real similar defenses lately and I think offensively, we match up pretty good with them," he said. "We're pretty familiar with what we're seeing … they want to really play good because they know they'll have a good crowd to play in front of."
Warriors go back to 8-man
The up-and-down season continues for Russell Christian Academy, as the Warriors look to shake off a 34-20 loss to Porter’s Chapel last week when they host Tuscaloosa Christian Academy at 7 p.m on Homecoming.
The game will pair last year’s MAIS 8-man champion against the AISA 8-man runner-up. Tuscaloosa Christian (3-3) will look to move the ball almost exclusively on the ground as it has already racked up 856 rushing yards. Tuscaloosa Christian has also been able to use its depth in the running game as the Warriors boast three backs with over 200 rushing yards.
Russell Christian will make the switch back to 8-man for the game.
Even though his team is just one year removed from an undefeated season at the 8-man level, Ballard said the switch back has been challenging this week.
“They way you block and the way you tackle, you are used to having more men out there,” Ballard said. “So, when you go from 11 to 8, the inside linebacker may be playing the same position in 8-man and think he has help to the outside. Now he has to realize that he doesn’t have help, he’s the containment. It’s just been a hard week of adjustments.”
Raiders have playoffs in sight
The Lamar Raiders continue district play tonight as they play host to Columbia Academy at 7 p.m.
Fresh off a 48-6 drudging of Copiah Academy last week, Lamar (5-1, 2-1) can move even closer to securing one of the four playoff spots awarded in MAIS AAA Division II.
“In our situation, if we can win this game then I feel we would need a lot of unique things to have to happen for us to make the playoffs,” Barnes said. “The big key is for us to keep winning though so we can host the first round.”
Barnes said Columbia Academy (3-2, 0-1) will be one of the biggest teams the Raiders have played, especially on the offensive line.
“They are a big, physical team,” he said. “Their coach came from Brookhaven, and he coached back there when they won the state championship in 2009. He’s a very good coach, and they’ll scout us well and have a good plan against us.
Barnes said the Raiders should be able to match up with Columbia’s size and hopes his team’s speed and size will help them pull away as the game goes on.
“The battle is going to take place with them trying to run the football and keep it away from us,” Barnes said. “Our defense will be challanged.