August 18, 2017 10:19:48 AM
Ricky Kendrick is ready for round two.
Kendrick will kick off his second stint as Caledonia High School football coach at 7 tonight when his team takes on West Lowndes in a battle of Lowndes County programs.
Caledonia is coming off a 14-0 victory against Mantachie last week in a two-quarter scrimmage. Kendrick, who served as head coach at Caledonia High from 2010-12, worked as a volunteer assistant coach for Andy Crotwell while he served as a History teacher at the school. When Crotwell left to become head football coach at North Pontotoc, Kendrick was named to take over the program.
Last season, Caledonia went 5-6 and lost to Greenwood in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A playoffs. The Confederates lost 28 seniors from that squad, so there are bound to be some growing pains and adjustments this season.
One of the biggest changes Caledonia has made is shifting from a spread attack that was used to highlight the skills of senior quarterback Spencer Unruh to a Wing-T style that Kendrick believes will play to the team's strength on the offensive line. Judging from what he saw against Mantachie, Kendrick was pleased.
"It was a very productive night," Kendrick said. "Our conditioning was good for only two weeks of practice. We saw much improvement from spring. We were able to adjust on defense to some of the things that Mantachie had a little success with. We saw our guys begin to mature, as almost all have never started a varsity game."
Kendrick praised the performance of the offensive line in the running and passing games. He said the Confederates were able to sustain drives and move the ball. Kendrick said Graham Wesley scored on an 8-yard run on the team's first drive. Wes Rollins added the extra point. Camden Hurst scored on a 30-yard run on the Confederates' third possession. Rollins again added the kick.
Defensively, Kendrick said Dylan Hankins had a good game at linebacker. He also said the defensive front played well, led by Dalton Cantrell, who is the only returning starter on that side of the ball. Kendrick also praised the secondary.
"I thought we got a jump on special teams, as we played all the kicking game live. Most scrimmages did not," Kendrick said. "We were able to change field position on our only punt of the night, and our kickoffs and coverage did a really good job for their first looks. We also had a long punt return by Wesley that set up our second score."
With a move from Region 4 to Region 2 in Class 4A, Caledonia will face a few new faces. Tonight, it will face some familiar faces from Lowndes County but an opponent that hasn't been a regular on the schedule. Kendrick anticipates a challenge against a West Lowndes program that is expected to have more depth and size than in recent years.
"Coach (Anthony) King has built a solid program at West Lowndes. We have great respect for them," Kendrick said. "They outman us at just about every position. It will be a huge challenge. We will have the same game plan each week, so we'll see how it goes. We want to control the clock, sustain drives, play solid and aggressive on defense, and have an excellent kicking game. We must protect the football."
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Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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