Distractions could play role in Vicksburg-Forest Hill matchup

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 1, 2002

[11/01/02]Vicksburg’s biggest test of the season may come tonight against one of the worst teams in Region 2-5A.

For starters, homecoming at Vicksburg High has always posed problems. The Gators have lost to overmatched Yazoo City and Indianola-Gentry in the past several years. Even when VHS wins on homecoming, it’s a dogfight.

“Homecoming is bad because people have a habit of thinking about before the game and after the game, but they forget about the game,” Vicksburg coach Alonzo Stevens said. “I think we’ve been more low-key this year and we have the type of seniors that are focused on what we have to do.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“The game is the most important thing, so let’s take care of the game.”

Added to that the turmoil surrounding the death of Maurice Taylor’s brother to a gunshot wound has coaches scrambling to keep their team focused.

Jimmie Taylor II was allegedly shot by a Warren County deputy sheriff on Saturday night at a party celebrating Maurice Taylor’s 17th birthday.

Jimmie Taylor died on Sunday morning at River Region West.

Maurice Taylor, who was struck in the head several times, will not play tonight. A.J. Hicks, who has been nursing nagging injuries all season long, will return, Stevens said.

The death also threw the Gators’ practice schedule into limbo. The team did not practice at all on Monday. Instead, counselors met with small groups of players. Stevens said the team had great workouts on both Tuesday and Wednesday as the rain and clouds gave way to an unusual burst of sunshine.

“It’s all about execution,” senior center Paul Gorney said. “If we can execute, we shouldn’t have a problem. “If we come out and play 48 minutes of football, the outcome should be good.”

All this has happened at one of the most important times of the season. The Gators (6-3, 4-1) are locked in a three-way tie for first place with Clinton and Warren Central. All three have earned playoff spots already, but Vicksburg is now fighting to host a playoff game, instead of traveling to either No. 1 South Panola or No. 5 Starkville.

“Hopefully we know how important this game is as far as getting home-field advantage in the playoffs,” Henry said. “I think we’ve been more focused this week than in year’s past.”

The Gators are coming off a 12-9 sloppy win against Callaway where the defense recovered a fumble on the Chargers’ 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter.

Forest Hill (3-6, 2-3), meanwhile, is coming off a 36-23 loss to Northwest Rankin.The run-dominated Rebels are led by bruising junior running back James Weathersby.

Stevens, though, expressed some concern because the Rebels have been eliminated from the playoffs and have nothing to lose.

“I expect them to come out with a no-lose mentality,” Stevens said. “I expect them to be thinking, no one expects us to win, it’s their homecoming, it’s Halloween.’

“We have to be focused on what we have to do and go out and really have a good, focused game.”