Gators hoping the dogs stay away

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 12, 2008

The Vicksburg Gators venture back to Hazlehurst tonight and maybe this time the local dogs can remain on a leash.

In their last visit in 2006, Vicksburg had the momentum in a close 20-14 game with the Indians before a stray dog decided that Hazlehurst’s 50-yard line was a good place for a nap.

“This doggone dog comes out and lays down on the 50-yard line. We were making a comeback and had all this momentum because Hazlehurst was getting tired. But then they have to go chase this dog off. It took enough time for Hazlehurst to get their wind back,” VHS coach Alonzo Stevens said.

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And the Gators lost to the Indians, who at that time were the defending Class 3A state champs.

Since then, Hazlehurst has changed coaches twice. The defensive coordinator from the state title team, Todd McDaniel, is now the head coach.

“Todd is one of the players I coached at Alcorn (State). He’s trying to bring back the pride they had when they won state. They don’t run things as crisp as they did back then, but they still have some good athletes who can run. And I’m always scared of speed. It’s something you have to find a way to neutralize,” Stevens said.

Hazlehurst’s game last Friday nght against Tylertown was canceled due to Hurricane Gustav and the Indians (0-1) lost their season opener to Franklin County 27-6.

VHS is coming off a 7-0 win over Warren Central in a game that came down to the final play.

“Our offensive line play and the cut-down in turnovers were the big improvements over the opener with South Panola,” Stevens said. “We had only one turnover in the WC game after having four against Panola. And all those turnovers in the Panola game were self-induced. Five times they had the ball inside our 20, but got only the one score. Our defense has played really well so far. They are flying to the ball.”

The Gator defense came up with the big stop in the final seconds, stopping WC running back Joel Forbes on a fourth-and-goal to preserve the school’s third win in four years over the archrival Vikings. Jarvis Jones leads the defense with nine tackles while senior defensive back Robert Prentiss and Morris Lias had six each.

Offensively, the Gators hope to break out more against Hazlehurst. Quarterback Les Lemons leads the attack with 92 yards rushing and 66 passing. But as a team, the Gators have averaged just 149.5 yards per game in total offense.

Tonight’s Games 7 p.m. starts Porters Chapel at Veritas Hinds AHS at Raymond Tallulah Academy hosts Franklin Madison Parish at Delhi Charter Central Hinds at Univ. Christian Briarfield at Strider SIA at North Sunflower   7:30 p.m. starts St. Aloysius at Salem VHS at Hazlehurst (1490 AM) WC at South Pike (105.5 FM) South Delta hosts Port Gibson