Redemption on Gators’ minds at Red Carpet Bowl

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 29, 2003

Vicksburg High coach Alonzo Stevens, right, gets ready to blow the horn to end practice on Tuesday. On left, Warren Central coach Robert Morgan watches intently as his team practices before a heavy rainstorm on Wednesday. (Melanie Duncan ThortisThe Vicksburg Post)

[8/29/03]Vicksburg High coach Alonzo Stevens’ biggest fan will be sidelined for Friday’s Red Carpet Bowl.

Stevens’ wife, Linda, suffered a ruptured appendix last week forcing her to the hospital. The coach said his wife is expected to be released sometime early next week.

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Because of her hospitalization, Stevens has been juggling teaching, coaching and spending time at the hospital.

“She’s my all-in-all. She pushes me,” Alonzo Stevens said. “She kicked me out of the room and told me I needed to go to practice.”

Stevens’ oldest daughter alerted Stevens after a practice last week that she had taken Linda to the hospital. The burst happened during the afternoon, but Linda was adamant about not letting her husband miss preparation time.

“My oldest daughter carried her to the hospital and was going to make a phone call,” Alonzo Stevens said. “Linda said, where are you going?’ and my daughter said she was going to call Daddy.

“Linda said, Don’t you go interrupting his practice.’ I was mad at my daughter, but she said what could I do? She wouldn’t let me.'”

Meanwhile, Southaven coach Calvin Aldridge can only hope his team has the same fortunes in the Red Carpet Bowl as Wayne County did last season.

Wayne County slammed top-ranked Vicksburg High in last year’s RCB, then went on to win the Class 5A state championship.

The Chargers, who hadn’t made the playoffs in more than a decade, reached the Class 5A semifinals. To get there, they had to beat Warren Central at Viking Stadium.

The long ride back had little effect on Aldridge’s decision to return.

“We needed a first game,” Aldridge said. “We are having a very hard time filling our schedule, nobody around here wants to play us.”

With 12 starters returning from last season’s 10-4 team, and one of the top defensive backs in the country, the Chargers plan to put plenty of pressure on Vicksburg’s defense.

Greg Hinds, rated as the second highest cornerback prospect in the country by’s Tom Lemming, leads a spirited defense that also features twin defensive linemen Michael and Steve Denning.

Hinds will also see time on offense and special teams.

On offense, Southaven will replace a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Chris Barnett and Adam Nester. Junior Brian Fitzgerald is the leading candidate.

Senior Chad Lampling returns at QB and the Chargers feature 300-pound guard Josh Winchell.

“We obviously have to go out and give an awesome effort,” Stevens said. “It will be a dogfight.”