With Lili bearing down on area, coaches are ready to play

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 3, 2002

[10/03/02]For the second time in as many weeks, local high school coaches are turning an eye toward the Gulf of Mexico as well as their opponents Friday night.

Hurricane Lili, which strengthened to a powerful Category 4 hurricane Wednesday afternoon before weakening somewhat overnight, hit land this morning and is expected to drop several inches of rain throughout today and Friday.

Packing 100 mph winds as it made landfall this morning along the Louisiana coast, the storm could force schools to postpone some football games Friday night. Winds of 60-65 mph were forecast for the Vicksburg area tonight and early tomorrow.

“We surely don’t want anything to happen to them or their fans trying to get here to play football,” said Porters Chapel Academy coach Bubba Mims, whose team is scheduled to play Briarfield Academy in a key Conference 5-A game on Friday. “The high winds scare me. With trees and power lines blowing over, it’s dangerous to have people on the road.”

Lili is forecast to be out of the area by Friday night, and coaches at all four Vicksburg schools said they expected to play their games as scheduled.

Warren Central is scheduled to host Callaway for homecoming, Vicksburg will face Madison Central at Memorial Stadium, and St. Aloysius will travel to face Salem.

For VHS and WC, the final decision on whether to play rests with Vicksburg Warren athletic director Lum Wright Jr. WC coach Robert Morgan and VHS coach Alonzo Stevens both said they didn’t expect a decision until Friday afternoon.

“That would be a call from our administration. It can’t get any worse than it was last year, and they let us play in that,” said Stevens, whose team played in torrential downpours and a thunderstorm last year at Madison Central. “As long as my kids aren’t in danger, I don’t have any problems with it.”

Morgan, whose Vikings have already played several games this season in the rain and slop, said the week’s game preparation would continue as normal.

“We anticipate some rough weather, but we’ve been in three out of five now with rough weather so we’ll prepare either way,” Morgan said. “It’s probably going to wet on homecoming, wet on everything. But the good Lord is driving this truck and we’re just riding on it.”

The decision on whether to play is out of St. Al’s hands, athletic director Joe Graves said. The final decision will be made by Salem, which also has its homecoming scheduled for Friday.

“We’ll do whatever the public schools do. That’s always been our policy in the past,” Graves said.

Mims said he and Briarfield coach Jay Murphree have worked out a contingency plan to reschedule their game, most likely on Saturday. Today’s PCA-Briarfield junior high game in Lake Providence would be played on Monday if the weather turns sour early.

The other coaches said they expected similar plans for their high school games if the weather is too bad. No firm plans were in place, however.

“A game like this, the show has to go on,” Morgan said. “You call games off, you throw kinks into everything.”