Following a two-week quarantine due to positive COVID-19 tests amongst its football program, North Pike is eager to return to the gridiron tonight and pick up its first district win.
Standing in the way of the Jaguars are District 6-4A foes the Lawrence County Cougars.
North Pike head coach Matt Mock says that there are a number of emotions that can be used to describe how the Jaguars have felt over the past two weeks.
“I don’t know if you could put it into words,” he said. “I think that honestly it is a combination of not being sure what to do with yourself on a Friday night when you usually have a game and not sure what to do with yourself when you are supposed to be practicing.”
The Jaguars (3-3, 0-1) were given the green light to return to practice Wednesday. Mock and his staff are now tasked with trying to get a week’s worth of practice in two days in an attempt to ready the team as much as they can to compete. Mock admits, however, that the level of excitement just to be back is very high.
“The excitement is there and you can tell that they haven’t done anything for awhile and there was some disappointment that they missed out on the opportunity to play against Natchez and McComb,” Mock said. “It was a little bit of an adjustment and we had to take a break and catch our breath a couple of times because we haven’t done anything.”
After studying film on the Cougars (2-3, 1-1), Mock studied how they use the Wing-T formation to put their rushing game on display.
He adds that it will be a tough task for his young, yet experienced defenders.
“They run the Wing-T and they have for a while,” he said.”They have guys back there who can take it the distance, No. 10 (Elijah Helton), No. 22 (Da’Quan Pittman), No. 11 (Kannon Cato) can do decent stuff (and) No. 1 (Quincy Lewis), he’s pretty good and we will have to bottle him up and we can’t afford to let him break loose. It is definitely going to be a run-heavy offense.”
Mock and the Jaguars will counter with an offense loaded with an experienced offensive line and a multitude of playmakers from receivers Jermarius Lewis, Cade Rush, Jacoby Matthews and Zamarea Fountain to running back Damuriyon Montgomery to up-and-coming sophomore quarterback Cardell McDowell who used the time off during quarantine to nurse a lingering injury.
“We are 100% healthy as far as players are concerned,” Mock said. “We have 100% of our guys. Those two weeks helped us, now we just have to work to get into game shape.”
Two additional factors surrounding tonight’s game is that the game will be played at North Pike’s adopted home of John I. Hurst Stadium on the campus of Southwest Mississippi Community College and that it will be homecoming for the Jaguars.
And despite not playing a game since Sept. 25, and only getting two days to prepare, Mock said that his team will be ready to compete as it looks to get that all-important first district win.
“I think that we are going to come out and play hard, I think that we are going to come out and play with energy,” Mock said. “I’m just excited to finally get back out there and give these players a chance to show what they can do and do what they are capable of doing.”