Banged-up Gators going to Greenville for regional opener

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 21, 2000

Vicksburg High heads into Friday’s Region 2-5A opener at Greenville banged up but 4-0 for the first time since 1993.

It may be hard to stay that way with as many as three starters out with injuries this week against a 3-1 Greenville squad that’s also off to a great start.

“It’s a new Greenville team. It’s much better than they were last year. We know we’re going to have to play if we want to come back with a victory,” VHS coach James Knox said.

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VHS’ J.J. Brown will miss his second straight game after having arthroscopic knee surgery, and starting wide receiver Quinton Miles is doubtful. Terry Cooper, tied with Brown for the team lead in receptions with five, is the latest addition to the casualty list.

Cooper twisted a knee in the first quarter of last week’s 42-0 win over Yazoo City. He was diagnosed with a partially torn miniscus earlier this week.

He finished the Yazoo City game and said a strong rehab effort has made him ready to play this week, but he’ll still have an MRI exam on Friday to learn the extent of the injury. He added that the team’s other injuries were inspiring him to play.

“That’s what’s driving me more than anything. We can’t afford any more losses at this stage,” Cooper said.

Even with the Gators’ injury situation, Greenville coach Phil Short isn’t taking VHS lightly.

The Gators handled the Hornets easily last season, 52-18.

Short said the Gators will be a tall order this time around.

“We have to play a flawless game to beat them. We’re going to create war on both sides of the ball,” Short said.

Knox is concerned with the Hornets’ speed at the skill positions and their tendency to go for the big play.

“If we play well, we can control them. But their type of team can hurt you with the bomb,” Knox said.

While both coaches praised the other’s team, both also agreed on the importance of Friday’s game. With No. 2 Clinton and No. 5 Madison Central apparent locks for two of Region 2-5A’s four playoff spots, the outcome of Friday’s game could be a big factor in determining the last two playoff spots.

“The first district game is very important. We stress to the kids that you have to win the very first ballgame, because it doesn’t get any easier after this,” Knox said.

Short agreed.

“We’re real decent so far, but it all starts this week,” he said. “This is the biggest ballgame of our season, no doubt … We feel like this is going to be the toughest game of our season.

“Only a few teams are going to be in first place on Saturday and we feel it’s very important to be in that number.”