Rainey: Gators need to change mindset to beat WC

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 1, 2000

This season is shaping up like so many in the past at Vicksburg High: Have a very successful first 10 weeks, lose to Warren Central and then lose in the playoffs.

Antonio Rainey wants that to change. And this is is last year he can do anything about it.

“It hurts,” said Rainey, who has passed for 652 yards. “We look forward to that good season, then when it comes down to the last game, always against them, and for some reason, it’s always been in their favor.

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“Most people think that the odds are against us, but if we can get it in our heads that it’s not, then we have a chance to beat them.”

The Gators, after all, have been decimated in the series between crosstown schools. Last year, a blocked punt led to the lone touchdown of the game in a 10-0 Warren Central win.

This year appears to be as tough, if not a tougher challenge, than in years past.

The common theme is using the Gators’ speed and mammoth offensive line to slow down a defense that has led WC to a No. 13 state ranking. A loss Friday night could vault WC even higher in the polls and keep the frustration at Vicksburg High alive.

“I mean, look at the series 18 losses in 19 games,” said VHS offensive lineman Andre Bennett, who will have his hands full against a solid front four. “I feel this year that the offensive line has stepped up a lot of levels. If we play our best game, we can’t be stopped.”

That has been a recurring theme for the Gators over the years. In 1990, at Memorial Stadium, the Gators captured the lone win of the series, a 10-9 squeaker. The following year, the Gators entered the game with the state’s No. 1 ranking, only to begin a string of nine straight series losses.

Assistant offensive coordinator Jackie Williamson is stressing a different approach as Friday night’s game gets closer.

“I think sometimes players put too much pressure on themselves instead of just going out there, having fun and playing football,” Williamson said. “When it does come, if we go out and play good, sound football and have a good time playing, I think we’ll be successful.”

More than ever, this year’s game has major playoff implications. Both teams will fight for the third spot in the playoffs, and a probable trip to South Panola for the first round of the playoffs. Vicksburg will have to win to reach the No. 3 spot.

“We don’t want to be stuck at the bottom playing the top team,” cornerback David Heard said. “That’s how it’s been almost every year, having to play the toughest team and then losing.”

Williamson said all the pressure lies on WC.

“Our kids need to understand that the pressure should never be on us,” Williamson said. “The pressure should be on them, but for some reason, our kids feel that all the pressure is on them and it’s not.

“They have more to lose out of us losing to us then we have of losing to them. We’ve lost every year except one the pressure is on them because it’s more of a disgrace for them to be the team that lost to Vicksburg than for us to be the team that lost.”