McNair-like Spurlock out to spoil homecoming, playoff hopes for Gators

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 27, 2000

Vicksburg High coach James Knox is plainspoken about his team’s strategy against Gentry and quarterback Michael Spurlock in the Gators’ homecoming Friday night.

“If you stop Spurlock, you stop Gentry,” he said. “It’s going to be a long night if we fail.”

No one has had success stopping the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder, who has accounted for more than 3,500 yards and 41 touchdowns in just nine games. Trouble is, the Rams (1-8, 0-4 Region 2-5A) haven’t had any success stopping other teams.

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The Gators (6-3, 2-3), who have also had their problems on defense this year, need to outscore Gentry to have a chance at earning the fourth and final playoff berth in Region 2-5A.

“We made need 70 (points),” Knox said with a laugh.

He may not be that far off.

The Rams scored 71 earlier this season and lost. They have lit up some of the top defenses in the state.

“We can score on anybody, but we can’t stop anybody,” said Gentry coach Rickey Taylor, who was quarterback coach at Alcorn State when Steve McNair was there and coached rising Jackson State star Robert Kent at Gentry.

The Rams put 28 on the board against Warren Central, which allows an average of just 12 points per game. They got 26 against Clinton (15-point average) and 42 against Madison Central (18-point average). But those teams scored 47 55 and 75 on the Rams.

Spurlock, who also kicks and punts, has engineered it all, passing for 2,790 yards and 31 TDs and running for 817 yards and 10 TDs.

“He reminds me a lot of Steve,” Taylor said. “He can make something when there’s nothing there.”

That’s what concerns VHS defensive coordinator Robert Erves.

“He’s so patient and smooth,” Erves said. “Nothing rattles him. He’s made the best miss and that buys time for his receivers.”

VHS defensive backs David Heard and D’Eldrick Taylor are ready for the challenge, especially since they don’t see too many passing teams in the run-happy region.

“We know he’s a good quarterback,” Heard said.

“That means opportunities (for interceptions). I think I can get three or four,” he added with a sly smile.

“I’m excited because this is the first team we’ll see that throws,” Taylor said. “It should be a good motivator for us going into the Warren Central game.”

Erves said that he has come up with some schemes no one else has tried, but he wouldn’t elaborate.

“I’ve had some ideas in my mind since last year, some things others haven’t tried,” Erves said. “It can’t hurt.”

Knox said the plan is to keep pressure on Spurlock, even though he realizes how dangerous he is on the run.

“If you give him time, he will complete the pass,” Knox said. “Your best out is to make him do something in a hurry, make quick decisions.

“We’ve got to make them understand that you can’t just stand up and tackle him,” Knox said. “If you do that, you’ll catch air.”

The Gators may have to try to stop Spurlock without linebacker Vance Gray, who is questionable because of a shoulder injury.

“This is a must game for us,” Knox said. “Everybody’s keyed up, ready to play.”

Knox said he will try to keep his players focused by reminding them that Gentry knocked the Gators out of the playoffs on homecoming two years ago.

“We plan on doing the same thing again,” Taylor said. “We’re coming to play.”