Southern takes on Chambers

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 4, 2005

It’s safe to say that Southern Acad. has faced–and very likely will face–more daunting opponents in its long winning streak than Chambers Acad., the team the Cougars will host Friday in the first round of the AISA Class A playoffs.

Why? Because Southern has played the Rebels once already this season, traveling to Lafayette Sept. 9 and drubbing Chambers 43-0. Despite that easy victory and the prospect of another blow-out Friday, Southern head coach Shaun Bonds says that his Cougars have practiced like a team focused on the task at hand.

“We’ve had two pretty good practices. I like the attitude of our ball club,” he says, adding that it’s not the first time in 2005 he’s been pleased with the Cougars’ work effort.

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“We’ve been more determined. They have worked so hard no matter who we’re playing,” he says. “We’re just going to continue to work and improve.”

Bonds admits that “for kids, the natural tendency is to look past a game like this” and that he won’t know for sure how prepared his team is until Friday. But the coaching staff has been preaching the importance of not overlooking anyone–even a team Southern has already proven itself superior to.

“You’re always concerned the second time you play a team. It’s harder to beat a team the second time,” he says. “If we think we can just walk out there and win the game, it’s going to be a struggle. We have to come in mentally prepared.”

Adding to Bonds’s worries is that the Cougars are ailing. With fullback Chase Compton already out for the season, Southern’s blocking up front has taken two more blows with junior guard Adam Brown’s strained medial collateral ligament and an ankle injury to starting center Allen Langham. Both may be able to return if the Cougars advance, but for the Chambers game the two are “limited or out,” according to Bonds.

Starting quarterback Nathan Bonds, who is nursing a shoulder injury, and split end Nick Parker may also have to miss time. Bonds says he’s not surprised after facing Patrician and Pickens, a pair of good Class AA teams, in the final two weeks of the season.

“We’re beat up pretty good,” he said. “I said I thought those last two games would beat us up, and it did.”

Despite the lopsided loss earlier in the season, Bonds says Chambers has the potential to give Southern a competitive game.

“They put a drive together on us and we had to stop them at the goalline. They’ve got quick backs and a huge line, and their fullback was out when they played us,” he says. “We won by out-quicking them, out-running them. We’ll have to do that again.”

Of course, with players like split end Jason Segura, safety Matt Collins, and tight end Wes Henry, the Cougars may not have too much problem out-quicking the Rebels a second time.

And that’s not even mentioning tailback Wallace Drury. Drury has established him as a Player of the Year candidate in AISA with a 2,298-yard season, one he capped with perhaps his finest performance in the Cougars’ 45-13 win over Pickens. Drury torched the 2A Pirates for 411 yards on 26 carries, 84 more yards on three kick returns, and another six yards on one pass reception. The total: a whopping 501 all-purpose yards.

“I’ve never seen nothing like that,” Bonds says. “He’s at tailback out of necessity, but he’s been even better than what I expected. I think he’s the best player in AISA. I’d say he’s got to be the MVP.”

But even for all of Drury’s brilliance, Bonds knows that with a state title and a second straight undefeated season on the line, the Cougars have too much at stake to take to take even Chambers lightly.

“We’ve got the chance to do something special. [Winning a state title] is so hard to do at any level, at any class,” he says. “We’re only worried about this game. You play them one at a time.”