Crushing defeat sends Vicksburg tumbling in poll

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 3, 2002

[09/03/02]Vicksburg High coach Alonzo Stevens has a few words of advice for voters ranking his team in the latest Mississippi prep polls.

“I wish we would drop out of it completely,” said Stevens, whose top-ranked Gators lost 28-13 to Wayne County in the Red Carpet Bowl on Friday. “I wish we would drop to 9,999 and get focused and understand what it’s all about.”

Stevens’ team didn’t fall that far, but did tumble six spots to No. 7 in the latest Associated Press poll.

Wayne County vaulted to No. 2, while Brandon barely held off the War Eagles for the top spot.

For the Gators, this week is about shaking off an embarrassing loss at home and preparing for their next game against Brookhaven.

Against then-No. 7 Wayne County in the opener, VHS struggled on both sides of the ball.

The Gators managed only 81 rushing yards and allowed 226. Quarterback Justin Henry was 14-for-27 passing for 185 yards, but was sacked three times and knocked down nearly every time he threw the ball.

“Justin had one of the best games I think he’s ever had,” Stevens said. “His supporting cast let him down. We dropped seven, eight passes, and had breakdowns in pass protection.”

Stevens added that the loss was “embarrassing”.

“It was for me,” he said. “When you’ve got a good football team and for whatever reason they don’t play up to their potential, it’s embarrassing.”

The Gators managed only one touchdown until Henry’s desperation, 43-yard TD pass to Ben Shelton on the final play of the game.

With four other top-10 teams losing in their openers, however, the Gators didn’t tumble out of the top half of the rankings completely. And that’s not far enough for Stevens.

Unlike last year, when the lack of a ranking seemed to fire up the Gators during their run to the North State championship game, Stevens admitted the No. 1 preseason ranking and the attention that goes with it had distracted VHS this year.

Now, it’s up to the players to come down from the clouds and get back on the field.

“I definitely think we’ll pull out of this some positive things. We’ve got a senior-laden ballclub,” Stevens said. “All the hoopla is over with, and now it’s time to get after it.

“I think they understand even more that they have to play ball every Friday night.”