Gators not cruising as playoffs approach|Vicksburg has already locked up No. 2 spot in Region 3-4A

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 31, 2008

While there will be no playoff implications at stake for Vicksburg High, tonight’s game with Ridgeland is still important.

Gators coach Alonzo Stevens used terms like momentum and payback as enough motivating factors for the Gators (7-2, 5-1 Region 3-4A) to be at their best against the visiting Titans (4-5, 3-3).

“Those people beat us last year. We can’t sit around. Just because we’re in the playoffs and will be at home in the first round, is not an excuse not to go out and play good football. Ridgeland is a good football team and you don’t want to go into the playoffs on a bad note,” Stevens said.

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Last year’s 13-10 overtime loss at Ridgeland is a big motivator. The Gators played one of their better games of the season against the Titans, who won Region 3-4A last year with an unbeaten regular season. A defensive penalty went against Vicksburg after it had taken a 10-7 lead in overtime, and Ridgeland got a touchdown to win it.

The loss sent Vicksburg on the road on a low note to West Point, where it was beaten 24-14 and its season was over after starting 6-2.

“The road is a weary place, especially in the playoffs. That’s why we’re so glad we’ll be at home next week,” Stevens said.

The opponent for that date is still up in the air. Shannon upset Region 1-4A frontrunner Itawamba AHS and took over the top spot. Itawamba is playing Pontotoc tonight. Pontotoc is currently a game behind Itawamba in third place and Tishomingo County is fourth. Shannon plays Tishomingo tonight. Stevens’ staff will scout both games.

“We know it’s going to be one of those four teams,” Stevens said.

Even with a loss tonight against the Gators, Ridgeland could back into the playoffs provided Yazoo County doesn’t upset Region 3-4A champ Pearl tonight and Callaway doesn’t beat Yazoo City. Yazoo City is locked into the third spot after beating Ridgeland 28-14 last week and will play the No. 2 team from Region 1-4A next week.

“It’s pretty much a done deal after Yazoo City beat Ridgeland last week. Things might have been different had Ridgeland not fumbled the ball away against Yazoo County,” Stevens said of the Titans’ stunning 14-13 loss to Yazoo County. It was the first region win in two years for the Panthers, who lost three weeks ago to the Gators 36-6.

Stevens said a key for his team has been their focus on staying sharp after coming back to beat Yazoo City on Oct. 3, 12-6, in overtime.

“That was it. Our guys have been able to stay focused. We keep getting better but we haven’t peaked yet,” Stevens said.

Another key has been solid defense. The Gators rank fourth in Class 4A in points allowed with just 91. Last week’s 41-0 rout of Canton was their third shutout of the season. In all seven wins this season, VHS has allowed a touchdown or less.

“We’ve got four guys going both ways, but that just helps keep our best guys on the field. Malcolm Butler plays corner on defense and slot on offense, Trey (Prentiss) is our safety and also starts at wide receiver while Cameron Smith and Jarvis Jones play on both offensive and defensive lines,” Stevens said.

Quarterback Les Lemons runs the offense and he has completed 58 of 116 passes for 694 yards and four scores. Carlos Williams paces the defense with 106 tackles.


Contact Jeff Byrd at