First-game jitters are to be expected as players and coaches alike are anxious and sometimes over-hyped to get the season underway. Add to that, your opening night opponent is your biggest rival, and one could expect the intensity to be heightened even more.
Well, that was the case this past Friday night as rival Yazoo City and Yazoo County met in The Swamp at Yazoo County in a battle for bragging rights in the annual contest for the Y-Team Trophy.
When the dust had settled, the Indians were able to come away with an 8-0 victory in the penalty-ridden, season-opening game for both schools.
Yazoo City improves to 1-0 and takes possession of the Y-Team Trophy from the Panthers, now 0-1. The win marked the first of his career at Yazoo City head coach David Parker.
“It felt good to pick up the first win of my career here at Yazoo City and it was icing on the cake that it just happened to be against rival Yazoo County. It felt real good to be able to accomplish those two things,” said Parker.
For much of the first half the two teams traded possessions full of offensive gains and numerous setbacks. It seemed as though whenever either team launched a significant drive, they ultimately doomed themselves with unnecessary penalties.
Yazoo County threatened to score near the end of the first quarter, driving the ball all the way to the Indian four-yard line. The drive was ended, however, when YHS defensive back Devan Drain picked off a pass from YCHS quarterback Franco Whisenton in the endzone.
On their ensuing, the Indians were forced to punt the ball back over to the Panthers. Senior LaKevion Dixon took the punt at the 42-yard line and returned it all the way for an apparent Panther touchdown, however, a Panther penalty negated the score.
The Indians would mount a long drive of their own midway through the second quarter highlighted by a 51-yard screen pass from Indian quarterback Christopher Burnett to Rosonia Stiff. Unfortunately, a costly penalty kept the endzone out of the endzone and they would turn the ball over on downs to the Panthers.
The game’s only score came with :28 seconds remaining in the first half when Burnett dropped back to pass and threw a strike over the middle to Christopher Bell for a 27-yard touchdown. Burnettt connected on the two-point conversion pass with Tyler Mitchell, who made a spectacular one-handed grab to give the Indians an 8-0 lead.
The second half went much of the same way as the first half with the two teams threatening but never cashing in.
Yazoo City was led in rushing by Burnett while the Panther senior running back Jamarion Stewart paced the Panther rushing attack.
Leading tackler for the Indians was junior linebacker Anthony Brown with 13 tackles. Yazoo County linebacker Clifton Young led the Panther defense with 8 tackles.
While the Indians were able to come away with the win, Parker knows that there is still a lot of work to be done and cleaning up the penalties is the first thing on his list.
“You can expect a lot of penalties in the first real game of the year, but we’ve got to do a better job of keeping our composure out on the field,” said Parker. “We can fix offsides and holding penalties pretty easy, but we’ve got to do a better job of keeping our cool. A lot of our penalties were us reacting to something they did. We should have scored two or three more times had we not shot ourselves in the foot with penalties.
Yazoo County has a bye this week and returns to action in two weeks against Winona. Yazoo City now turns their attention to another bitter rival, as they visit the Canton Tigers this Friday.
Said Parker, “Defensively our gameplan this week is going to be the same as it was against Yazoo County and that is to stop the run. We want to try and get them behind the chains and force them into passing situations. I’d rather be facing third and 15 rather than third and five. If they watch film on us they’re probably going to crowd the box and try to force us to throw. We’re really focusing more on fixing our own problems than on Canton to be honest. We have a lot of things that we have to clean up.”