Published 12:00 am Friday, October 20, 2006

fleeting playoff hopes rely on upset of Madison|[10/20/06].

There’s no doubt about the importance of tonight’s game against Madison Central for the Vicksburg Gators.

&#8220It’s pivotal,” VHS coach Alonzo Stevens said. &#8220A win against them keeps our playoff hopes alive. We can also salvage a winning season. I’m glad we’re playing them at home.”

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Vicksburg picked up a bit of momentum by dusting off Greenville-Weston 45-12 last week in Greenville. The win was the Gators’ first in Region 2-5A play and moved them to 3-5 on the season.

In order to make the playoffs for the second straight year, though, the Gators must win their last three games starting with Madison Central (6-2, 3-1), which sits in second place in the region with Northwest Rankin after beating Provine 28-14 last week.

Stevens knows what’s coming from the Jaguars – a time-consuming ground game that last week piled up 420 rushing yards against Provine.

&#8220Coach (Bobby) Hall has put in the mid-line type thing and he’s got them playing well on both sides of the ball,” Stevens said. &#8220We have got to put them on a long field and make them drive and maybe they’ll have some holding calls and other slip ups.”

Hall feels his team is playing well after a 3-2 start, which included losses to Wayne County and Clinton.

&#8220I think we’re beginning to turn the corner,” Hall said. &#8220Our quarterback played a great game. He ran our offense like you’re supposed to do it.”

Madison quarterback Jared Foster, a transfer from Canton Academy, has struggled, going from a passing offense to a run-based attack. He had 81 yards against Provine, a season high.

Don Smith is the key back in the Jaguars’ mid-line offense, having rushed for 1,053 yards and nine touchdowns. Pat Harrison adds 496 yards.

The Jaguar defense is led by All-State candidate tackle Cortez Myles (46 tackles) and linebacker Greg Norwood, who has 78 stops.

Vicksburg will counter with an offense that may have found itself in the past two weeks. Quarterback Stanton Price has averaged more than 200 yards per game passing in his last two starts.

For the season, the junior has completed 88 of 152 passes for 998 yards and eight touchdowns. Vernon Wolfe (28 receptions for 409 yards) and John Qualls (20 for 270) are the top two targets.

&#8220Vicksburg has all the ingredients,” Hall said. &#8220They’re big on the line of scrimmage, they have fast, quick skill players and they have a very good quarterback. They’re a very dangerous football team.”

Stevens says staying away from mistakes is the key.

&#8220When we stay away from turnovers, we have a good team. I would hope our defense could put us on a short field again like they did last week,” Stevens said.

&#8220One thing I’ve seen in Madison Central against both Provine and Warren Central is that they can load up against one dimensional teams. We’re getting to where we can now run the ball better and we’ve already proven we throw against anybody.”