Win over Hodge-less Arrows would boost Gators’ playoff hopes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 12, 2000

Thanks to a Callaway upset, Vicksburg High is back in the playoff hunt.

A win over No. 2 Clinton (7-0, 3-0 in Region 2-5A) Friday night would almost assure the Gators (5-2, 1-2) of a playoff spot. A loss, and the uphill climb will become even steeper for VHS, which lost its first two Region 2-5A games.

With three Top 10 teams Clinton, Madison Central and Warren Central in the region, playoff berths will be hard to come by. Only the top four teams make it to the postseason.

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Madison and Clinton both are undefeated in the region, while Warren Central has one loss. Greenville has two losses, but still must play Warren Central and Madison Central.

The Gators could make the playoffs without an upset over Clinton or Warren Central, but the odds are slim.

“They’re just another team that we have to beat,” VHS linebacker Steven Caldwell said. “Just like Murrah last week, we’ll take care of ’em.”

If the Gators are to beat Clinton, the timing couldn’t be better.

The Arrows lost all-state running back and Mississippi State signee Coco Hodge for the season with a broken leg in the Arrows’ blowout win over Gentry one week ago.

“We won’t know exactly how we are doing until Friday night,” said Clinton coach David Bradberry, who will play Desean Dyson, Clarence McDougal and Kendrick Kelly in the backfield. “We’ve had a good week of practice, but we are not aware of how big a loss it is yet. We’ll know when it’s fourth-and-short in a big game and we don’t have (Hodge).”

Bradberry will start quarterback Teddy DiBiase, son of the former professional wrestler Ted DiBiasi. The younger DiBiase hurt his arm early in the season, then had leg injuries. This will be his first start since the opening week of the season.

“Anything that takes away from their offense is a plus for us,” Caldwell said. “I don’t wish anyone bad luck, but (Hodge) was a main key to their offense.”

The Arrows have gone through a brutal non-conference schedule, which included wins over No. 3 Brandon and defending state runnerup Provine.

“We’re fixin’ to run into the meat of our schedule,” said Bradberry, whose team must travel to No. 10 Warren Central on Oct. 20 and No. 4 Madison Central two weeks later. “This will be a very pivotal game for us.”

Vicksburg, which buried Murrah 44-7 a week ago, will have trouble running against the talented Arrows defense, which is led by Mississippi State signee Clarence McDougal.

Antonio Rainey, the county’s leading passer with 551 yards and three touchdowns, will need to play his finest game of the year for a chance to win.

“We have to do what we’ve been doing, but we cannot become one dimensional,” Stevens said. “We have a few wrinkles we’ll throw at them to see if they can handle it and move on from there.”

J.J. Brown will try to spark a running game that is still reeling from the loss of starting tailback Phelon Gray. A host of backs, including Reginald Wheatley and Adam Hodnett, filled in in the Murrah win.

Game time in Clinton is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

“People may look at the last few games, but for the most part, this game is usually a dogfight,” Bradberry said. “Someone’s going to make some big plays and we just hope we make more of them.”