Trinity Episcopal (1-4) at Prairie View (5-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
On paper, Friday night's game between Class 1A Natchez Trinity Episcopal (1-4) and Class 2A Prairie View (5-1) looks like a mismatch. Kickoff time is set for 7 p.m. at Dr. E.D. Baker Field.
Taking the Saints' schedule and speed into consideration, Prairie View coach Bo Barton isn't taking anything for granted.
"I really think they are going to win 1A. I think they're that good," Barton said. "They have two legitimate D-1 players, and they have four guys who can out-run everybody we have. They play extremely hard and extremely fast. It's going to be a tough ballgame."
Since defeating Amite (Miss.) 22-14 in the season opener, the Saints have lost four straight to Brookhaven (41-40), Cathedral (41-13), Canton (45-14) and crosstown rival Adams County Christian (41-12).
"They lost to Brookhaven on the last play of the game, and Brookhaven is 5-1," Barton said. "Cathedral and ACCS are two of the top teams in 3A. Canton is the defending 2A state champion and their only losses are to St. Joe and Manchester, who are No. 1 and No. 2 in 2A. Trinity was only down to Canton 30-17 going into the fourth quarter."
Lack of bodies — the Saints list only 17 players on their roster — has been the chief culprit in the Saints' slow start. In fact, Trinity had to cancel its recent game against St. Joseph due to a rash of injuries.
"They have 17 kids, and 14 that play," Barton said. "The biggest issue they have is their four starting defensive linemen all play on the offensive line. Obviously, we have to try and wear them down somehow."
Trinity's quick-strike capability is a cause of concern for Barton.
"To show you how explosive Trinity is, they have scored 14 touchdowns in six games. Nine of their touchdowns have been longer than 40 yards," Barton said. "They are a big-play team. The fact is they are going to make some big plays."
Top players for the Saints include junior quarterback/free safety Sterling Yarbrough, senior wide receiver/cornerback Dee Fleming, junior wide receiver/free safety Jared Simpson, senior running back Anfernee Thomas and senior lineman Kris Genous.
Bouncing back from a 34-20 loss to Riverfield, Prairie View manhandled Glenbrook 42-0 last week. Barton says Riverfield and Trinity are the two toughest foes the Spartans have faced.
"The problem Trinity poses is they are just the opposite of Riverfield," Barton said. "Riverfield was big, brawny and physical. Trinity is extremely fast and very athletic. I don't think they will be more physical than us, but we have to have 11 people flying to the football, and we have to execute our offense and try to keep them off the field."
Barton expects both the Riverfield and Trinity games to benefit the Spartans over the long haul.
"The good thing about it is we were able to play Riverfield — a team that was extremely physical and bigger than us — before we went to Glenbrook Friday night. Glenbrook was physical, but we had played a physical game the week before," Barton said. "Nobody in the state is more athletic than Trinity. We have at least two games on our schedule that will prepare us for down the road. We get to play two teams that cover the entire spectrum. I felt like we could match up with Riverfield's speed, but they were more physical than us. We can't match Trinity's speed and athleticism, but maybe we are more physical. It's another way of testing our team and getting us ready for Week 11."
Layton Rainbolt led the Spartans offensively against Glenbrook with 182 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries.
Caleb Tanksley, Gage Riles, Caleb Christmas, Mason King and Austin Harper paved the way as the Spartans rushed for 282 yards on 41 attempts.
Among the Spartans' key defensive players are linemen Tyler Peters, Cole Kinnaird, Jacob Walker and Kolton Farrar.
UNSUNG HERO: Barton credited trainer Megan Till, who is also the school's softball coach, for her work with Rainbolt and linebackers Austin Carroll (sprained ankle) and Jacob Farrar (ribs) last week.
"With everything she had going on with softball last week (the Lady Spartans played in the South State Tournament Saturday), coach Megan Till did a great job of rehabbing our kids," Barton said. "All three of those kids played their tails off last week. Hats off to her."
NEXT: Prairie View travels to Central Private on Friday, Oct. 6.