By Austin Bishop
The Choctaw Plaindealer
While there are still two games remaining in the regular season, the playoffs may as well start Friday night as far as French Camp Academy head football coach Nathan Wright is concerned.
Following a solid 36-0 win over Region 3-1A foe Ethel on Friday night, the Panthers find themselves tied for fourth in the league with Sebastopol at 4-2. Pelahatchie leads Region 3-1A with a 6-1 mark, while Nanih Waiya and Noxapater are both 5-1.
“We have to treat the rest of the season like they are playoff games,” Wright said. “That is the kind of caliber teams we are playing. We have to play like the state championship is depending on it.”
Pelahatchie has wins over FCA and Nanih Waiya, but lost to Noxapater. Nanih Waiya beat Noxapater 20-14 in overtime last Thursday, but lost to Pelahatchie 39-0 earlier in the season. FCA has already lost to Noxapater and Pelahatchie and plays host to Nanih Waiya in a key game on Friday night.
“I hope we can go into the game and be physical, because we know they will be,” Wright said of the Warriors. “They are going to try and run the football and pound the ball right at us. That’s what they do and they do it well. That’s the toughest thing for a defense because it will just wear you out.”
After hosting the Warriors on Friday, FCA closes out the regular season at Sebastopol. The Bobcats are currently 4-2 in the league with games left with Noxapater and French Camp. Sebastopol’s league losses were to Pelahatchie and Nanih Waiya.
Michael Erving had a big game for the Panthers against Ethel on Friday night, rushing for 142 yards and a touchdown on six carries, while senior quarterback Jesse Hosket hit on 7-of-8 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 32 yards and another score on seven attempts.
FCA, now 5-5 overall, took a 13-0 lead after one quarter of play when Hunter McKnight hauled in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Hosket, who later scored on a 2-yard run. The Panthers took a 20-0 lead at the half thanks to a 1-yard run by Hagan Box in the second quarter.
French Camp closed out the scoring in the third quarter behind a 43-yard touchdown run by Erving, a safety recorded by Jevante McAdory and a 1-yard scoring run by Sam Howard. Sam Gould was good on 5-of-6 extra point attempts for the Panthers.
Cole Henson had four catches for 33 yards, McKnight two for 31 and Corrie Witt one for 13.
“We are looking better,” Wright said of his team’s performance. “We got a few guys back who had been injured and that helped us a lot. It was the best we have played defensively, as far as being in the right places and doing the right things goes.”