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By RUSSELL TURNER – Herald Editor
Explosive plays on offense. Suffocating defense. Good special teams play. Ask any football coach in America and they will tell you those three things make for a winning combination.
The Greene County Wildcats had all three of those things going their way Friday night as GCHS jumped on Forrest County AHS early and cruised to a 40-0 win over the Aggies on Homecoming at Brooklyn. The win pushed the Wildcats’ record to 4-3 overall and 2-0 in Region 7-4A.
It was the third straight week Coach Mike King’s team jumped out to a big early lead on the way to a lopsided victory.
“I think our guys have come out ready to play,” King said of his teams’ fast starts. “We’ve changed up our practice schedule during the week and aren’t beating up on each other in practice so much. We come out and have a controlled, but physical practice on Thursdays and that seems to be carrying over.”
“We have definitely been playing with a lot of energy.”
Despite the threat of rain, Aggie field was brimming with excitement as the Homecoming festivities wrapped up just prior to kickoff. The weather never played a factor, but it didn’t take long for the Wildcats to rain on the party.
The Wildcat defense absolutely had its way with the Aggie offense, allowing only 39 yards of total offense by FCAHS. The Cats shut down Forrest County from the first whistle to the final horn, but it was the first three Aggie possessions that set the tone.
The Wildcats forced the Aggies into 3-and-out punting situations on each of their first two possessions. A nice punt return by freshman K.J. Miller set GCHS up at the Forrest County 22-yard-line and senior Anthony Calhoun took it from there on the Cats’ first play from scrimmage. After a second Aggie punt, GCHS needed just one play once again as senior quarterback Drake Henderson broke free for a dandy 63-yard TD scamper.
Forrest County got good field position after a good return on the ensuing kickoff, but senior safety Kade Kittrell intercepted a halfback pass attempt on the next play to give possession back to GCHS. Three plays later, Henderson tossed a screen pass out to Calhoun who rambled down the visitor sideline, carrying two defenders the final few yards for a 55-yard TD.
GCHS followed that with a 7-play, 62-yard drive to push the lead to 27-0 before the end of the first quarter. Senior Peyton Roberts finished the drive by hauling in a short pass from Henderson, breaking a tackle and turning it into a 25-yard TD reception.
The Wildcats pushed the lead to 34-0 at the half after another big defensive stand forced an Aggie punt with under a minute left on the clock. Henderson and Calhoun connected for a dandy 57-yard TD pass straight down the middle of the field to effectively put the game away with 46 seconds left in the second quarter.
“That play was definitely big for us,” King added. “We brought the receiver out of the backfield and Drake saw it open and made a good throw. Calhoun did a good job of getting it into the endzone.”
The Aggies had their best opportunity to score early in the third quarter after the Cats failed to cover an onside kick. But, the GCHS defense didn’t budge and forced a turnover on downs four plays later. Moments later, Henderson connected with Miller for a 45-yard TD strike to give the Cats’ their final 40-point margin.
Defensively, the Cats were led by senior linebacker Ladon Woullard’s eight tackles. Senior Jaheim Cooper and sophomore Jeremiah Cochran followed with six stops apiece. Kittrell and senior classmates Malachi Graham, Josh Bolton, Hunter McLeod, Joe Dearman and Gary Hawthorne added three tackles apiece. Sophomore’s O.J. Polk and Kye Seymour also had three tackles each.
Offensively, the Wildcats were led by Henderson’s five total touchdowns. The senior quarterback completed 4-of-7 pass attempts for 183 yards. All four completions went for touchdowns. He also had 94 yards rushing, and a TD, on just four carries.
Calhoun had a big night as well, putting up 182 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. He had 69 rushing yards and a TD on seven carries.
Sophomore Brayden Brewer took over for extra point duties and was 4-of-6 on PATs in the game.
Trip to Stone County up next for Cats
The Wildcats travel to Wiggins this Friday in hopes of improving to 3-0 against the new kids on the block in Region 7-4A – the Stone County Tomcats.
Stone County dropped down in classification from 5A this past year and many onlookers had them tabbed as a team to shake up the region standings this season. The Tomcats are not off to the best of starts in their new region, but Coach King fully expects his Wildcats to have their hands full on the road against one of the biggest schools in 4A.
The Tomcats enter the matchup at 1-5 overall and winless in Region 7-4A. They started the season with losses to Gulfport (13-48) and Seminary (23-32). They claimed a 29-17 win over Hancock in week three, but fell 14-31 to Biloxi the following week. They lost a 40-42 nail biter to Purvis in their region opener and struggled against Poplarville in a 14-41 loss to the Hornets last week.
“They’ve played some solid teams and I believe they will be ready to play when we go there Friday night,” King added.
Kickoff between the two teams is set for Friday night on the campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Fans unable to attend the game can watch the Wildcats’ live stream of the action at www.NFHSNetwork.com.