VHS, Clinton set to renew rivalry

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 18, 2002

Paul “Moose” Gorney (62) and Phelan Gray (4) lead last year’s Vicksburg High victory celebration over rival Clinton. The two schools, located about 30 miles apart, will renew their rivalry tonight in Clinton. (The Vicksburg Post/FILE)

[10/18/02]The last time Vicksburg High coach Alonzo Stevens and Clinton coach Pete Hurt squared off on the sidelines, a slinger named McNair stole the show.

Alcorn State’s record-setting quarterback Steve McNair, in his senior season, led the Braves from a 42-13 deficit midway through the third quarter to a tie with Hurt’s Samford Bulldogs, 45-45.

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“They broke the attendance record, but most of the crowd had left,” Stevens recalled Tuesday while preparing for Hurt again, this time on the prep level. “After that, everyone was like, wow, (McNair’s) everything they said he is.'”

On that day, McNair completed 37 of 63 passes for 563 yards, tossed two touchdowns and ran for nearly 100 yards, had two rushing touchdowns and set the national passing record, which he still owns.

Hurt remembers that game well.

“Yeah, we had a little trouble stopping McNair,” Hurt said with a chuckle. “We played against (Daunte) Culpepper and McNair that year and McNair was better then.”

Now, Stevens can only hope that his current quarterback can put up similar numbers against Hurt’s Arrows.

The Gators (5-2, 3-0 Region 2-5A) and Arrows (4-3, 2-1) will square off Friday night in Clinton in a game that has major playoff implications.

Henry leads Warren County with more than 1,000 yards passing and 11 touchdowns.

With a win, Vicksburg will move to 4-0 and keep pace with unbeaten Warren Central is a wild region race.

“Everyone in this region is playing good football,” Stevens said. “Week-in, week-out, you can get whipped by anybody.

“It’s good to have a region this strong and we feel that it is one of the toughest around. That’s why we have to play every single week.”

That wasn’t the case last week as the Gators, admittedly, were lucky to escape Murrah with a win.

“You hear coaches talk about pretty wins and ugly wins, but I’ll tell you this, I will never complain about a win,” Stevens said.

Phelan “The Bus” Gray sat out the second half of the Madison Central game and missed all of Friday’s game with an injured knee. Darrell Williams filled in with 126 yards on 21 carries. He is expected to see action this week at either fullback or tailback. Michael Rainey also had his first 100-yard rushing game of his career.

In addition, Johnny Daniel returns from a three-week absence and will start for the Gators’ defense that has been susceptible this season, allowing an average of 23 points per game.

D’Eldrick Taylor, who was speared in the back and left the Murrah game, said Tuesday that he plans to play Friday night as well.

While the Gators get their starters back, Clinton has gotten bitten by the injury bug.

Starting fullback Lee Dyson had foot surgery last week and will miss the rest of the season. He had 350 yards and two touchdowns in the first five games of the season.

Sophomore Derric Hearn and freshman Sean Wiley will split time at fullback.

“Certainly that will hurt us,” Hurt said. “We’ll just have to make some adjustments.”