Gators geared up for showdown with MC

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 29, 2000

For five years, Madison Central has dominated Region 2-5A football, having only lost one game in region play.

The defending state champions (4-1) are 1-0 in region this year, with a loss to No. 3 Brandon, 35-25, two weeks ago. The Jags bring the state’s No. 5 ranking into tonight’s game at Memorial Stadium at 7:30.

Vicksburg, on the other hand, is coming into the game already fighting an uphill battle for a playoff spot. A 21-17 upset loss at Greenville last week has put VHS in a near must-win situation.

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The state’s No. 2 (Clinton), No. 5 (MC) and No. 8 (Warren Central) teams are all in Region 2-5A. Only four will advance to the playoffs.

“We’re just trying to get our guys’ minds right and get back on the right track,” Vicksburg coach James Knox said. “There’s no ifs or ands about it, we don’t have another easy ballgame. We’re going to have to play.”

The Gators got some encouraging news this week when they learned that explosive running back J.J. Brown will play. Brown had laser surgery to repair minor damage in his right knee two weeks ago.

Brown, along with running backs Terry Cooper and Phelon Gray and quarterback Antonio Rainey, will be called on to move the ball on a stout Jaguars’ defense.

“They are not as super-good as they used to be after they lost to Brandon,” said Cooper, the team’s leading receiver with six catches for 137 yards and a touchdown.

Moving the ball against Madison’s defense could be easier than stopping a potent offense that features three highly recruited players.

Running back Sylvester “Bobo” Brown, who rushed for 2,691 yards and 31 touchdowns as a junior, paces a powerful running game. Mike Espy leads the receivers.

A massive, experienced offensive line led by Chris Spencer (6-foot-4, 315 pounds) paves the way.

“We’ll stay with what we’ve been doing all year and hopefully we’ll get better at it,” Vicksburg defensive coordinator Robert Erves said.

A late defensive breakdown against Greenville handed the Gators their first loss of the year. Rainey said to beat MC, the Gators need to play a mistake-free game.

“We have to get everything done correctly in practice, then make sure we don’t make mistakes,” Rainey said. “When we played Greenville, we made a lot of mistakes in the second half and it cost us the game.

“Those mistakes turnovers and penalties Madison Central will capitalize on and we can’t give them anything.”