VHS to be without versatile Brown for two weeks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 13, 2000

The undefeated Vicksburg Gators (3-0) will go to Yazoo City (0-3) Friday night without one of their most dangerous weapons.

J.J. Brown, the Gators’ leading rusher with 247 yards, will be sidelined about two weeks after suffering a minor tear to a ligament in his right knee.

After two doctors’ opinions, Brown underwent a laser arthroscopic surgery this morning to repair the damage.

“It’s just like getting a tuneup in your car,” Gators’ offensive coordinator Alonzo Stevens said. “They’re just going to go in there and clean things up. As an athlete, this is routine, like an oil change.”

Brown, who is also the Gators’ top punt and kickoff returner and second-leading receiver, threw for one score and ran for another in a 28-6 win over Natchez on Friday. He did not appear to be injured during or right after the game.

On Saturday morning, however, his knee was swollen. He can’t remember how it happened.

In his place will be a bevy of running backs, most from the junior varsity team. D’Eldrick Taylor, Lamar Smothers and Reginald Wheatley will all see action at running back.

“If this had to happen, I would rather have him sit out now than during district,” assistant coach Jackie Williamson said. “We’d much rather have him rested for the district games.”

Yazoo City will be the last non-Region 2-5A game for Vicksburg. The Indians are 0-3 under first-year coach Anthony Woolfolk, but have played one of the toughest non-region schedules in the state.

Next up for the Gators is their Region 2-5A opener against Greenville, traditionally one of the weaker teams in the region.

The Indians opened with a loss to top-ranked Madison Central, then fell to No. 11 Starkville and on Friday were blistered by No. 4 Louisville, 58-0.

Woolfolk, a former Alcorn State assistant, pointed out that he did not make the schedule and added that his team is desperately seeking its first victory.

Last season, the 4-7 Indians were overmatched, but they took the Gators to overtime before falling by a touchdown.

Coaches still talk about a game several years ago at Yazoo when the Gators were upset, setting off a Super Bowl-esque celebration in the Delta.

Even Gators head coach James Knox has bad memories of playing the Indians. Asked what the toughest thing about playing at Yazoo City was, Knox quickly responded, “the bugs.”

Five years ago, Knox was rushed to the emergency room after a flying Delta insect turned his ear into an autumn home.

“He flew in there and instead of flying back out, he just kept going in,” Knox said.

A special pair of tweezers were needed to extract the bug, which, Knox said, caused an incredible amount of pain.

Despite the unusual events that seem to follow this once-fierce rivalry, the Gators have dominated the series, but Williamson has warned his team about the dangers of playing a team that has been beaten badly three weeks in a row.

“They haven’t laid down on us in three years, why would they do it the fourth?” Williamson said. “… I hope our guys go up there and realize they have had a very tough season, but they are a good ballclub. We’re going to have to go up there and play, not mess around for three quarters.”