Gators, Greenwood in Buffet Bowl’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 24, 2000

When Vicksburg meets Greenwood in the second game of the Red Carpet Bowl, organizers should consider changing the name to the Buffet Bowl.

Both teams bring mammoth offensive lines into Friday night’s opening matchup for both teams. Vicksburg’s line averages a whooping 299 pounds, while the Bulldogs’ line tip the scales at 282 pounds apiece.

“They are huge,” VHS defensive coordinator Robert Erves said. “We have to try to offset their size with our speed. We plan to put in a few schemes to try to get to the quarterback quickly.”

With an expected game-time temperature hovering well above 90, both Greenwood and Vicksburg coaches believe the weather will play a role.

“Hopefully, because of the heat, we will do well offensively and not have to keep those guys on the field too long,” said Knox, whose team will have just four players playing both ways. “Maybe we can outlast Greenwood.”

The Gators have been practicing during the hottest parts of the day leading up to the game. As opposed to last year, Vicksburg will have an advantage of playing the late game, which is scheduled for 8 p.m.

For three quarters a season ago, Vicksburg went toe-to-toe with Picayune before tiring in the fourth quarter.

“We just didn’t have any more fuel to put on the fire,” Knox said.

Vicksburg’s speed led by a talented trio of running backs will be a key component. The Gators are convinced Greenwood will send everybody to try to disrupt the young VHS offensive line.

“They have an aggressive defense and they will be big up front,” said Stevens, who played against Greenwood coach Charles Brady in both high school and college.

Vicksburg quarterback Antonio Rainey, who got a fingernail on his non-throwing hand caught in a teammate’s pads during practice and tore it off, was held out of Friday’s scrimmage. Stevens said he should be able to start tonight.

Greenwood will counter with a standout quarterback of its own in Marcus Watkins. The senior has the ability to pass well and is a better-than-average runner. Brady said his signal-caller’s running ability sets him apart.

“We have to find a way to contain him and make him get rid of the ball quickly,” Erves said.

Knox added, “I think that if we can hold them to 14 points, we’ll be able to score three touchdowns.”

Last year, with several of the same components, the VHS offense chewed up yardage at a significant clip. The Gators scored 56, 50 and 63 points in three wins. Using the same offense, the Gators could put immense pressure on an opponents’ defense.

“They run the ball extremely well and use a lot of misdirection,” Brady said. “The keys for us will be to stay at home a little longer than we usually would.”

One thing is for sure, both teams will be filled with early season jitters.

“You prepare the team all summer and go through all the drills and then the first half is all sandlot,” Brady said. “Hopefully by the second half we can get those things corrected.”