Lance Mancuso is not an easy man to please.
But that can be the case when you’ve coached your team to 17 consecutive victories and two state titles in the past four years.
Following Bassfield’s 26-0 season-opening victory over Seminary Friday at Howard L. Willoughby Field, the Yellowjacket head coach said a win is a win, but what he saw was a team in need of some serious work in a couple of areas.
“Anytime you can outscore the opponent on Friday night, that’s what it’s about,” he said. “But we’re just going to have to count on our defense until these guys up front can mature a little bit.”
Despite the perceived shortcomings on offense for Bassfield – the defending Class 2A State Champion, and winners of 17 games in a row – the defense did its best to take the pressure off.
The Yellowjackets held Seminary to minus-18 yards of total offense. Of the Bulldogs’ 41 offensive plays, only seven went for positive yardage.
Seminary head coach Brian Rials knew coming into Friday’s game that Bassfield’s defense would present a major challenge.
“That’s a real good football team over there,” he said. “Hopefully one of the best we’ll see this year. (But) they just smothered us all night – anything we tried to do.”
Bassfield senior linebacker A.J. Moore, an Ole Miss verbal commitment, said the game plan was simple.
“The plan was to fly around to the ball and be aggressive,” said Moore, who finished with six tackles, including a sack that turned into a safety. “We wanted to try to be disciplined. A disciplined defense – you can’t beat it.”
The Yellowjackets defense forced Seminary to go three-and-out on its first possession of the game. And its second. And its third.
On the Bulldogs’ fourth possession, Moore sacked quarterback Austin Balthazor in the end zone for the safety, putting the Yellowjackets up 2-0 with 7:31 in the second quarter.
Two possessions later, Bassfield junior running back Greg Green punched the ball in from 2 yards out to give the home team a 9-0 advantage.
“There’s some good things we’ll take from tonight,” Mancuso said. “I’m proud of those guys.”
Rials said he was also proud of his bunch, regardless of the outcome.
“I think our defense played a heck of a game,” he said. “They fought to the very end and never quit.”
James Payton had five tackles for Seminary.
Bassfield travels to Forrest County AHS next Friday, while Seminary hosts South Jones. Both games kick off at 7 p.m.