Gators garnering national attention

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 6, 2002

Casey Younger of Vicksburg High participates in a defensive drill as assistant coach David Tadlock looks on Monday as the public schools opened practice for the high school season. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[08/06/02]Vicksburg High is garnering plenty of nationwide attention as practices kicked off Monday.

The Sporting News High School magazine has the Gators as the No. 1 team in Mississippi and No. 44 in the country. The team lost by a touchdown in the North State championship game last season to eventual state champion Starkville and returns a bevy of offensive and defensive talent.

“We have to keep working,” said coach Alonzo Stevens, who is widely considered to have the team to beat in Region 2-5A if not the state. “We had a really good speed camp and the kids held up good. We have done everything a team could as for to prepare for the season.”

The Gators had their only two-a-day practice of the year on Monday. They will practice in the afternoons leading up to the opening matchup against Wayne County in the Red Carpet Bowl Classic.

“Our kids have given us 100 percent of their time,” Stevens said. “We’ve been to camp after camp after camp trying to get better. I’m proud of these guys already.”

Vicksburg did get a shot of bad news, though, as starting defensive back D’Eldrick Taylor will miss at least the first week and maybe more after hurting a knee.

Stevens said the injury is not too serious and the standout should be able to play against Wayne County.

Vikings dress 86

as practices start

Warren Central coach Robert Morgan said an exceptional summer workout program and hard work from his assistants has the Vikings ready for another shot at the state playoffs.

“The fieldhouse is looking great and that is a compliment to our assistant coaches,” said Morgan, starting his 18th season at the helm of the Vikings. “All the fieldhouses are looking sharp and the equipment came back looking good. It’s going to be exciting to see what we have.”

Morgan said 86 players dressed out and 22 seniors return from their 8-5 season last year. WC beat Tupelo in the opening round of the playoffs before losing to eventual state champion Starkville.

The Vikings will lift weights each day for an hour, then hit the practice field for an hour after.

Warren Central has 24 days until its opener against Liberty, Texas, in the Red Carpet Bowl Classic at Vicksburg High.

Morgan said he’s seen tape of Liberty, but besides that, he knows little of the Texas school. Liberty won a state title in 1999.

PCA finishes 2-a-days,

focuses on Tensas

Porters Chapel Academy, like the rest of the schools in the Mississippi Private School Association, began practice last week and concluded its two-a-days on Friday.

PCA coach Bubba Mims said he has fewer players out for the team than last year, but the attitudes of the ones that have shown up more than make up for the lower turnout.

“I was hoping for a little more numbers. Last year we had 31. We’ve got 23 now, but the difference is all of these 23 want to play,” Mims said. “There’s more enthusiasm, and it’s a tighter-knit group.”

Mims said the Eagles’ offense looked good during two-a-days, but the team’s defense is a concern. PCA’s two leading tacklers from last season, defensive lineman Michael Guynes and linebacker Nick Carr, are both gone.

Guynes graduated and Carr transferred to Tri-County, leaving a gaping hole on a defense that was already shaky against the run.

“The biggest question mark, no question, is the defense,” Mims said. “We moved the ball on pretty much everybody we played last year, but we couldn’t get it in the end zone. And defense-wise, we had problems stopping some people … The key for our defense is our linemen being able to stop that run.”

Flashes bring spirit,

experience to practice

The St. Aloysius Flashes opened workouts for the start of the season on Monday and coach Jim Taylor said his team was fired up for the opener on the road at Greenville-St. Joseph.

“Spirits are good and we’re trying to do a few new things and I look forward to it,” Flashes coach Jim Taylor said.

But for those that took it easy over the summer break, the heat holds no mercy.

“They’re never going to be in shape and it’s not going to be cool,” he said.

But the flashes are in good shape with a squad full of experience, Taylor said.

“The best thing going for us is we have 11 seniors, which is uncommon for us,” he said. “You think you got 11 seniors, you got better people, and probably we do. We have a good senior and junior class right now.

“We run a balanced offense and try to get all our people involved. Try to work with the idea of using a lot of personnel and expecting a lot out of a lot of people.”

Sports writers Ernest Bowker and Shane Marquardt contributed to this report