Rejuvenated Bulldogs off to fast start|[9/14/06]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 14, 2006

ROLLING FORK – Off to its best start since the James Denson coaching tenure, South Delta‘s players feel more is to come.

The Bulldogs of coach Derrick Hooker are off to a 3-0 start, which includes wins over 2005 playoff teams Ruleville Central (45-0) and last week’s 20-14 triumph over Hollandale Simmons, the Class 2A state runner-up. They also garnered a No. 8 ranking in this week’s Associated Press Class 3A poll.

&#8220I’m not surprised at all by our start,” said senior tailback/linebacker Garrett Williams. Called &#8220Scooter” by his teammates, Williams has bounced back from an injury-shortened 2005 season to rush for over 470 yards in the first three games in 2006.

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&#8220We’ve got the &#8220Scooter” back to give us a running game and we also have a stronger line to go with him,” adds senior quarterback Anthony Cartlidge. The Bulldogs came into the season returning four of five starting offensive linemen.

&#8220Can’t forget about our line,” South Delta center Wesley Washington said. &#8220We help make the ‘Scooter’ go.”

Williams played just 3 1/2 games last season, going down against Winona with a broken ankle. His return this season gives the Bulldogs a breakaway threat in the backfield, accounting for seven rushing touchdowns.

&#8220We’re very pleased with our start so far,” Hooker said. &#8220We just want to stay focused and try to be as successful as we can.”

A key for South Delta was its dominating 45-0 blowout of Ruleville Central in the opener.

&#8220It was great for us to beat Ruleville Central like that given the calibar of team they’ve been in the past,” Hooker said.

Beating Simmons, a team that made it to Mississippi Veterans Stadium last year, was even more special.

&#8220They beat us pretty good last year (32-12). But this time we won a defensive struggle. I don’t think either offense played that well,” Hooker said. &#8220Simmons scouted us pretty well and we didn’t cash in on a couple of opportunities we had on offense.”

Defense and special teams bailed out the Bulldogs.

&#8220Our defense was really good in that game and we got some points off special teams,” Cartlidge said.

Leading the way on defense was junior end Stallard Wlliams. He had six sacks in the contest, totally disrupting the Blue Devils’ passing game.

&#8220I just played hard and did what the coaches told me to,” Williams said. He had 13 sacks last season as a sophomore.

&#8220Our defense has been peaking right now,” Hooker said. &#8220We’ve been making a lot of plays. Stallard has been the big guy with the sacks. But we’ve also had Troy Brown, an 11th grader, step up. He’s helped at linebacker and that’s allowed us to rest Garrett more.”

With a fresh Garrett Williams, the Bulldogs can pound the ball late. But it helps to have a good passer in Cartlidge, who has tossed four TD passes to date, three to receiver Chris Robertson.

&#8220He’s been in the system for four years so this is his year,” Hooker said.

South Delta opens its Region 3-3A play Friday at Winona.