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Story Archives: Call it Frustration Bowl
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|Call it Frustration Bowl|
Natchez High officials billed Friday afternoon and night's trifecta as the River City Classic.
A better name for Ferriday players and coaches may have been the Frustration Bowl.
After what seemed in time like the Jerry Lewis Telethon when Cathedral versus Pointe Coupee and Block versus Wilkinson County ended four hours after they started, Ferriday finally took the field to begin warming up for its contest against Natchez.
But then someone had the brilliant idea of having Meet the Bulldogs at this time so the entire Natchez High football team lined up on the sideline and each one was introduced. This is while the Ferriday team is still warming up.
So when they finally get finished introducing 60-something players, they introduce the cheerleaders.
Then they introduce the dance team. And, oh yeah, the dance team has to perform. Except the music does not come on for about five minutes.
So with that finally out of the way, Natchez High then goes to its end of the field to warm up. Ferriday's defense is already on the field lined up waiting on the Natchez offense to begin the scrimmage.
A frustrated Freddie Harrison pulls his team to the sidelines after about 15 minutes when the officials finally decide that maybe we should get this final game started if they want to finish it before midnight.
Natchez High runs four plays and the sideline official throws his flag twice for a sideline warning against Ferriday coaches being over the sideline.
Harrison questioned the fact that in most scrimmages coaches can come on the field. Which is kind of what I was thinking. The Ferriday head coach was allowed to stand behind his offense when the Trojans had the ball. Are you totally confused yet? I know I was.
On about the fifth play from scrimmage, a Natchez High defensive back slapped a Ferriday High player across the helmet after making a tackle. The Ferriday High player slapped him back and officials stopped play and reprimanded both teams.
Natchez High scored on its first possession and its junior varsity and varsity added a score each.
Ferriday was unable to get any offense going against a quick and tenacious Bulldog defense, while the Ferriday defense settled down and held its own after the first drive.
During the second series between both varsity teams, a fight broke out in the middle of the line after a play and both benches emptied before coaches separated the teams. Harrison pulled his team into its own end zone and then the Trojans walked toward their buses to end the night. Make that a night of frustration for Ferriday folks.
Meanwhile in Jena on Thursday, officials working the Vidalia-Jena scrimmage must have been motivated by the Olympic Games in China. I know they had to set a world record for flags thrown. It was rare when two straight plays were run without a penalty.
There was more laundry on the field than a first-year college student returning home for the first time in three weeks.
The good news for both Vidalia coach Dee Faircloth and Jena coach Bernie Cooley, a Vidalia native, is that most of the mistakes are correctable.
The scrimmage should benefit both teams.
After a world of misfortune last year with injuries and freak plays, including a wobbly pass going for the winning TD at Ouachita Christian in the final seconds, maybe Faircloth's fortunes are changing this year.
If he would have had practice in Vidalia last Thursday, it would have been in the gym because of rain.
Cooley said it thundered and there was lightning in Jena during the day Thursday, but no rain.
Jena quarterback Beau Jones was very impressive after missing all of last year with an injury. Giant assistant coach Shane Martin, a former assistant coach at Huntington and Natchez High, said Jones has been receiving a lot of calls from colleges. The junior should have the Giants scoring a lot of points this season.
The scrimmage was instrumental for another reason. It was one of the few times that Henry Cooley of Vidalia has not watched one of his sons' games dating back to when Hank, Bernie and David were in Little League and Henry was the coach.
Henry followed his sons and grandkids everywhere to watch them play ball. He carried the chains at Vidalia High's football games for years. Henry died two weeks ago, losing the battle to cancer.
Bernie said his dad went down fast near the end and told him the one thing he regretted the most was not being able to watch a game.
Bernie had actually reserved a spot on the hill near the stands at Jena High for his dad to watch the games from his vehicle.
I could just picture Henry at the scrimmage Thursday saying, "C'mon, let them play. Where did Bernie get these guys from? We're going to be here until midnight."
Henry will still be at the games, even if it is only in fond memories.
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