Leaping Gators Vicksburg jumps to No. 9

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 11, 2001

[9/11/01] Alonzo Stevens hates it.

Justin Henry doesn’t care about it.

David Heard loves it.

Ah, to be ranked in the top 10.

For the first time since 1992, Vicksburg High cracked The Associated Press Top 10, shooting up five spots to No. 9 thanks to convincing wins over John Ehret (20-7) and Brookhaven (39-0).

“It feels good to finally be recognized,” said Heard, a defensive back who had two of Vicksburg’s four interceptions against Brookhaven. “We have the talent to be ranked that high, now we’re going for first place.”

Stevens, the first-year coach who said he’s happy for his players to be recognized. But rankings can cause distractions, he said, so he is worried about how his team will react.

“I want our kids to handle it a little better,” Stevens said. “Some people think we have a decent football team, so now go out and work hard in practice.

” … Games are played on the field, not in Saturday or Monday’s paper.”

Warren Central, despite needing overtime to beat McComb, climbed four spots to No. 16. The Vikings will be at South Pike on Friday.

The Gators (2-0) play struggling Natchez Friday night in their third straight road game. The Bulldogs were beaten by Tylertown two weeks ago.

“We can’t get caught thinking we have some sort of easy road to go down, because we don’t,” Stevens said. “It’s not going to be easy at all.”

Defending state champion Moss Point has reclaimed the top spot in poll, bumping Brandon to No. 2.

The Tigers are coming off a 35-0 victory over then-No. 19 Gautier that was their second straight shutout. Moss Point received six first-place votes, compared with four last week, and 126 points overall.

The Bulldogs, who held the No. 1 ranking for two weeks, struggled to beat Clinton 10-7 on Friday.

Henry, a junior quarterback, said rankings early in the season are nice for recognition, but does little on Friday nights.

“What is this, the second week of the season?” Henry said. “I don’t care if we’re number nine now, I want to be number one at the end.”

Stevens added that now teams will be Gator hunting.

“It’s not easy to climb the mountain,” Stevens said. “You work step-by-step to get up, but it’s real easy to tumble back down.”