Stevens ready for shot at WC

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 9, 2001

Derrick Adams of Vicksburg High is tackled by Derrick Hinkle during a tackle drill in practice Wednesday.(The Vicksburg Post/CHRISTIN FLOWERS)

[11/9/01]Alonzo Stevens has been a part of a dozen or so Vicksburg-Warren Central matchups.

Always on the Gators’ sideline, Stevens has seen disappointment follow almost every game. The lone win came in 1990.

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Now, in his first year as head coach, Stevens is entering this game as he would any other.

“Just another game,” Stevens said.

Really?

“I’ve seen too many of them to get caught up,” Stevens said. “We have to be ready to play. They have a fine football team.

” … It should be a fun one to watch because it’s been a long time since this much has been riding on the outcome.”

The has been anything but fun for the Gators, as history shows:

Warren Central has won 19 of the 20 meetings.

The Vikings have never lost at home, including seven shutouts.

Vicksburg has been outscored by an average of two touchdowns per game.

“I don’t think we can put the history behind us until we beat them,” punter/kicker Victor Parker said. “It’s always going to be in the back of our minds, we’ve only beaten them one time in 20 years.”

J.J. Brown, who leads the team in rushing (820 yards), receiving (313 yards) and touchdowns (11) has been around for three losses to WC. The mindset on this year’s Gators may be the difference, he said.

“We need to play as a team and that’s something we haven’t been doing in the past when we’ve played them,” Brown said.

“We used to get behind and then get down, but this year’s team comes together and comes back.”

Vicksburg came back to win a crucial game against Forest Hill last week for its fourth straight win, giving the Gators a chance at a home playoff game.

With a win over WC, Vicksburg will be home Nov. 16 against either Tupelo, South Panola or Greenville.

“Everyone in this fieldhouse wants to be playing at home (in the playoffs),” Parker said. “Any time you have a chance to host the first round of the playoffs, you want to take advantage of it.”

Vicksburg lost to Gulfport, 6-0, in 1994, the last year VHS hosted a playoff game.

The Gators boast an explosive offense that has averaged 334 yards per game. Quarterback Justin Henry leads the county with 1,012 yards and eight touchdown passes.

The running back tandem of Brown and Phelan Gray has accounted for 1,5035 yards and 18 touchdowns. Jonathan Wilson has rushed for 211 yards, while lightning-quick Maurice Taylor has run for 196 yards and Michael Rainey gained 191 yards.

“You have to go at it trying to stop something,” Stevens said. “It’s just what you want to stop. It’s an east-west, north-south offense. You stop one, you have to try to stop the others.”

The Gators run behind an experienced offensive line that tips or breaks the scales at more than 300 pounds per man.

Charles Wilson, who was ejected in the Forest Hill game and faced a one-game suspension, was ruled eligible after the tape of the game was sent to the Mississippi High School Activities Association and the initial ruling was overturned.

He will not start.

Defensively, the Gators have come together since the Madison Central loss. Since then, they have allowed an average of 15 points per game.

“If we come out to play the way we should, we’ll be OK,” defensive back D’Eldrick Taylor said.

Stevens, who has been an assistant for many VHS-WC tilts, said he hopes and believes the community will rally around a game with so much riding on it.

“This is what high school football is all about and I hope everyone gets involved,” Stevens said. “I want just as many Gators out there as Vikings. I’m asking the community to get behind these kids.”