Petal can’t relax Friday vs Jim Hill

By CAMAL PETRO,

After starting region play with Pearl, Oak Grove and Brandon in consecutive weeks, Petal will travel to Jackson to play a winless Jim Hill team.

After the emotional, final-minute win over its biggest rival two weeks ago, Petal had a difficult task of regrouping for Brandon. The Panthers turned in another good performance to earn the win over the Bulldogs.

For the second week in a row, the Panthers’ defense had to have a stop to complete the win, too. In the red zone with just a few seconds remaining, Petal sacked Oak Grove quarterback John Rhys Plumlee to end the game, then a fourth-down stop in overtime at the 1-inch mark gave Petal the win over the Bulldogs last Friday.

Remember, Petal had to replace nearly all of its players on the defensive side of the ball coming into the 2017 season, too.

Petal head coach Marcus Boyles said on the Tuesday before the Brandon game that his team needed to have the same focus they did preparing for Oak Grove.

“I thought as the week went on, the focus got better,” he said. “I’m not sure if it ever got where it needed to be, but it did get better throughout the week. It’s a learning experience for our team, and that’s what we talked about after the game Friday night. In our district, you have to get ready to play every week.

“Every Friday is a big ballgame. You can’t slip up and stumble. That’s what championship teams do. They get ready to play every Friday.”

Boyles wants his team to take the same approach this week, too. Even though Jim Hill is 0-7 and 0-3 in region play, the Panthers (4-3, 2-1 in Region 3-6A) can’t slow down with their momentum, he said.

“It’s still a region game, it’s still a big ballgame and it’s the next game,” Boyles said. “What we always talk to our kids about is we can’t control the opponent, we can’t control what they do, but we can control us, how we prepare and play. That’s what we’ll continue to preach to them this week. It’s another opportunity to play Friday night, it’s another opportunity for us to get a region win and we need to have a great week of practice.”

The Tigers have been shut out four times this season, and they haven’t scored more than eight points in any ballgame. A 13-8 loss to Forest Hill and a 21-8 defeat to Jackson Murrah have been the two closest games they’ve played.

“They’re kind of spread on offense, and they’re kind of struggling to score some points,” Boyles said. “They’re trying to find their identity.”

On defense, the 13 points to Forest Hill was the least amount of points any team has scored on the Tigers defense, while both Provine and Meridian scored 48. Opponents are averaging 32 points on Jim Hill this season.

“Defensively, they have a few good players on that side of the ball,” Boyles said. “They try to bring some pressure on you and different things that way.”