Natchez to face familiar faces

Published 12:01 am Friday, February 13, 2015

NATCHEZ — In the late 1990s, David Haywood and Derek Jarvis were running the show on the court at Natchez High.

Tonight, the two will meet again, but this time on opposite benches, as Jarvis leads Oak Grove into Natchez to take on Haywood and the Bulldogs.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time,” Jarvis said. “I can’t even find the words to explain it. It is amazing to have the opportunity to coach against them.”

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Both Haywood and Jarvis were products of current Natchez head coach Mike Martin, and now both roam the sidelines as assistant coaches.

“I saw it happening for a couple of my teammates,” said Haywood on potentially coaching. “We are guys that still love the game, and even when we play now, we compete and try to win.”

But Haywood and Jarvis aren’t the only ones making a return trip to Natchez. Rashad Arbuthnot, a senior for Oak Grove, will return to the stomping grounds of his mother Porsche Lyles, who was a member of the 1992-93 Natchez Lady Bulldogs state championship team.

“She talks about winning that championship every day,” Arbuthnot said. “It inspired me a lot. She inspired me to go and get a championship. She has some bragging rights right now.”

Arbuthnot said he has seen his coach turn up the intensity a bit heading into his homecoming game.

“He’s always intense, but he told us this is going to be a big crowd,” Arbuthnot said. “He is pumped up and ready to go.”

Arbuthnot said he is a bit nervous heading into the game knowing that he will have a big family crowd watching.

“It is going to be great to come back and have my family watch me,” he said. “I’m a little nervous, but not too worried.”

While Haywood and Jarvis will sit on opposing benches Friday night, their friendship and respect runs deep.

“Jarvis was the biggest kid on campus,” Haywood said. “He was really fun to be around, just enjoying life. He loves the game of basketball. I know he has a lot of love for this program in Natchez and wants it to do well.”

Jarvis said things are going to be a little different returning to Mary Jean Irving Memorial Gym.

“It is going to be so awkward,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever, maybe two times, been in the visitors locker room. It is going to be awkward to me going against the guys I went to war with day in and day out.”

Natchez and Oak Grove are scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff tonight.