Clinton, injuries give Gators fits|[02/03/07]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 3, 2007

After Tuesday’s playoff win over Starkville, the Vicksburg Gators were flying high in anticipation of their second-round game against longtime nemesis Clinton.

Then, little by little, things started to go wrong.

One of their best players suffered a season-ending knee injury. The game was moved to a neutral site that favors Clinton. And maybe, just maybe, some doubt started to creep in about whether they’ll ever beat the Arrows.

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The Gators take their shot this afternoon. They’ll try to break a long hex against Clinton that includes playoff losses in 2005 and 2006 – both seasons in which Clinton won Class 5A state titles – but it seems as if the deck is being stacked against them.

&#8220It does get to you because you’ve gotten to this point and then have to deal with all of these things,” Vicksburg coach Jason Bennett said. &#8220Sometimes you need a little adversity to fire you up a little more than normal.”

The Gators have had more than a little adversity since beating Starkville on Tuesday.

Cameron Curtis, the team’s second-leading scorer with 22 goals, suffered a severe knee injury in the win over the Yellow Jackets.

Curtis, who scored two goals against Starkville, tore his meniscus and two ligaments in a collision with Starkville keeper Tyler Abshire and will not play again this season. His absence leaves a gaping hole in the Gators’ lineup.

Then, on Wednesday, Clinton made a move that seems to favor it for today’s game. Clinton was scheduled to host a second-round match, but said its field was too muddy to play on. So the game was moved to the artificial turf field at Millsaps – a field that’s wider and better suits the speedy Arrows’ style of play, Bennett said.

Bennett wasn’t happy with the MHSAA’s decision to allow the game to be moved to Jackson, but said it’s just one more thing the Gators will have to adjust to.

&#8220I don’t think it’s very fair to move it out of a site like that when the stadium isn’t even in their city. And I think (Clinton) wanted to play on a wider field,” Bennett said. &#8220I’m not happy with it, but it’s something that’s been ruled on and isn’t going to change, and we’ve got to do it.”



3 p.m. – Vicksburg vs. Clinton

at Millsaps College

Admission: $5