Hinds has to stop Northwest machine

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 5, 2000

For all intents and purposes, tonight’s Hinds game at Northwest should be a preview of November’s state championship game.

For Northwest, it will be the state championship game.

The Rangers, undefeated and producing gaudy offensive numbers, came into the year with a No. 1 national ranking. But Northwest was banned from postseason play after it was learned the Rangers began practicing too soon.

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“I think that gives Northwest a little of a motivational edge,” Hinds defensive coordinator Jeff Terrill said. “They might think of this is their bowl game. We have to approach it differently, because our (South) division wins are the most important.”

Of course, Hinds has a little extra incentive to beat the North Division team. The Rangers beat Hinds for the 1999 state title.

Terrill was forced to tweak his defense after starting cornerback Cedric Fuller injured his ankle in the 31-28 win over Gulf Coast one week ago. He will be replaced by Chuck Allen and Chris Porter.

The two newcomers will have their hands full against an offense that has run roughshod through the state ranks.

Northwest averages 56 points per game and put up 79 against Gulf Coast and 72 against Jones. It churns out 491 yards per game, while quarterback Will Hall has thrown for 1,838 yards and 21 touchdowns in just five games. Anton Paige leads the Rangers’ receivers with 110 yards per game and seven scores.

“We have to save the equipment,” Terrill said. “I wish I had an intellectual answer about how to stop them. We will just do what we do and hope we do it well.”

For Hinds, quarterback Brad Banks has thrown for 989 yards and 10 touchdowns, five of which were caught by John Lewis.

Former Vicksburg High standout Thomas McKnight ranks No. 6 in the state with a 71 yards per game.

“We really hope we can stay with them,” Northwest coach Bobby Franklin said. “They have a very solid defense … It should be one helluva game.”

What the Eagles do best is stop opposing offenses.

Until the Gulf Coast game, the Eagles had allowed one touchdown in four games and led the state in total defense, allowing just 100 yards per game.

Hinds has yet to see an offense that comes close to the Northwest’s. The Eagles’ biggest test so far came against GC, a 31-28 win on a late field goal. The Rangers pummeled Gulf Coast, 79-34.

“It should come down to … which team can avoid making mistakes,” Franklin said. “(Hinds coach Gene Murphy) does a great job … They rarely will beat themselves.”

Gulf Coast, which also threw the ball often, is a different type of explosive team than the Rangers.

“They are not as junky,” Terrill said. “They run a no-huddle and put the ball up. There’s no magic answer on how to stop them.”