• 68°

First-place Gators face Murrah with shot at region title

[10/31/03] Forgive Vicksburg High coach Alonzo Stevens for wanting to put blinders on his players’ helmets.

He doesn’t want them looking anywhere but straight ahead at the Murrah Mustangs.

With everything to play for and a lot lose Vicksburg can assure itself at least at tie for the Region 2-5A championship by beating the Mustangs. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m at Memorial Stadium.

“We lost to Natchez,” Stevens said when asked if his team could possibly overlook Murrah. “Murrah is a good football team and our players know that. We played them in the (summer) passing league and we know they have a lot of talent.”

The scenario for Vicksburg is simple: Beat Murrah and the Gators will improve to 7-3 (6-0 in region). With a VHS win and a Warren Central loss to Grenada, the Gators would automatically be region champions and will host at least a first-round playoff game.

A Vicksburg win, coupled with a Warren Central win would mean the winner of the VHS-WC game on Nov. 7 the region champions.

A Vicksburg loss to Murrah and the playoff picture gets muddy.

What scares Stevens the most is having his players look at Murrah’s 2-7 record and seeing the Mustangs as a pushover.

“Weve seen so much bad happen to us early in the season, it made us more focused,” Stevens said.

VHS’ five-game winning streak has included a rejuvenated defense.

VHS has several players going both ways now and the results are staggering. In the last two games, the Gators have allowed a total of 111 yards and 7 points. In a win over Madison Central, VHS held the Jaguars to 49 total yards.

Murrah is on a seven-game losing streak, but has played Clinton and Grenada to within a touchdown, and Madison Central to 11 points.

Led by talented QB Joseph Hawkins, the Mustangs run a wide-open offense that is as unpredictable as it is dangerous. Wide receiver Jabary Gipson provides size and speed and can break a big play at any time, Stevens said.

“They are dangerous because they can score from almost anywhere on the field,” Stevens said.