Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 2, 2001

Brown cleared for MC game

[10/02/01]The Vicksburg Gators got some good news Monday, five days before their biggest game of the year.

J.J. Brown, who injured his shoulder in the first quarter of the Gators’ 46-29 win over Northwest Rankin, may play Friday against No. 3 Madison Central.

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The diagnosis Friday night had Brown, the Gators’ most dangerous offensive threat, out anywhere from six to eight weeks.

But after visits to a pair of Vicksburg doctors, the Gators’ speedy senior is cleared to play Friday.

Whether he will is another story.

“We still have to evaluate some things,” said coach Alonzo Stevens, whose team comes into the game No. 14 in The Associated Press poll. “It’s always good to have J.J. in the game because of what he brings to the table. But we have a little sophomore that brings something to the table, too.”

If Brown doesn’t play, Maurice Taylor, a lightning-quick running back, will fill in. Taylor has rushed 17 times for 183 yards almost an 11-yard per carry average and scored a pair of touchdowns.

Brown leads the team in receiving yards (214), touchdowns (8) and is second in rushing yards with 356 on just 36 carries.

“Maurice is as fast as anyone and we saw that Friday night,” Stevens said, referring to his 80-yard sprint that broke a 29-29 tie. “We’ll need some people to step up and we need to execute.”

Offensive linemen Junior Nix (shoulder) and Andre Bennett (ankle) are both expected to play.

“You have to play through the bumps and bruises,” Stevens said. “This time of year, everyone’s gonna have them. This is five games into the season. I’m sure Madison has them too.

“Now, it’s just who can get up and go and withstand the pain.”

History unkind to VHS

in Madison Central series

Vicksburg High’s history against Madison Central is almost as bleak as its performances against crosstown rival Warren Central.

There have been blowouts: the Jaguars have outscored VHS 190-64 in the last six meetings.

There have been heartaches: the infamous 1995 game when the Gators held a 14-10 lead with less than three minutes to play and needed only to sit on the ball, only to have a first-down pass intercepted. Two plays later, Madison scored to win 17-14.

But close games have been few and far between since then.

The 1998 Gators came within two touchdowns of MC, but lost 45-15 in 1999 and 40-14 last season.

“Teams in the conference haven’t done too good against them,” Stevens said.

“Since we’ve been in this thing, it’s been Madison Central every year, except last year.”

Stevens said the Jaguars, with three middle schools grades four through eight to choose from, have a built-in advantage over the rest of the region.

“It’s set up for defeat,” Stevens said. “… It’s a numbers game and it’s been good to them.”

Madison, with a student population of 2,095, is second to Harrison Central as the largest high school in the state, according to the Mississippi High School Activities Association Web site.

Clinton is next in the region with 1,402. Vicksburg ranks 17th of 35 schools in Class 5A with 1,208 and Warren Central is 22nd with 1,171.

The Jaguars, who lost an early season showdown with Brandon, have reeled off four straight wins, including a blowout of then-top ranked Moss Point, and vaulted to No. 3 in the state.

“You look at all your 5A programs, and they all draw from one junior high except for Madison, and that means a lot.”