Fast-starting Vicksburg preps for Pontotoc

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 7, 2008

For the past four weeks, Vicksburg’s football games have been over with by halftime.

In those games, the Gators (8-2) have outscored four Region 3-4A foes 147-0 by the half. Included in the run was last week’s 42-0 demolition of a Ridgeland squad that was the defending region champion last year.

Things may be different tonight when the Gators open the Class 4A playoffs at Memorial Stadium against Pontotoc (5-5). The game will be Vicksburg’s first home playoff game since 2002 when they ran into the Brandon Jackson-led Horn Lake Eagles. Vicksburg coach Alonzo Stevens remembers it well.

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“What a game that was. They had Brandon Jackson, who went on to Nebraska and is now with the (Green Bay) Packers and we had Rory (Johnson) chasing him all over the field. We lost in overtime. They blocked our PAT kick. I couldn’t get Brandi (Head) off the field, she was so upset, but it wasn’t her fault, our tackle missed his block,” Stevens said.

Stevens expects another tough home playoff game this time, but he feels he has a team that will be a difficult out for anybody.

“We’ve gotten better with each game. Penalties have been a big thing. We had 12 against Canton and last week, we had just four. We’re going good. We just have to maintain our focus,” Stevens said.

A big key has been a balanced offense. Quarterback Les Lemons has completed 60 of 121 passes for 753 yards while rushing for an additional 671 yards and six touchdowns.

“We’ve been working toward that 50-50 mix,” Stevens said. “If you put eight in the box, we’re going to throw it. If you lay back, we’ll run. We kind of let you dictate what you want and it’s worked out well for us. We feel we can do both running and passing real well.”

Pontotoc is a spread passing team led by quarterback Camden Dallas. In last week’s 22-20 loss to Region 1-4A runner-up Itawamba AHS, Dallas completed 11 of 18 passes for 207 yards and three touchdowns. The Warriors missed a two-point conversion pass that would’ve tied it with 4:31 left in the game.

“They run the spread and like to throw the ball all over the field. We’re going to have contain their quarterback,” Stevens said.

That job will fall to VHS linebacker Carlos Williams, who has 119 tackles on the season, and defensive end William Henderson, who has nine sacks.

Pontotoc coach Charlie Dampeer feels his team has to be well-prepared and get healthy in order to handle the Gators.

“We’ve got to have a good week of practice to give ourselves a chance at Vicksburg,” Dampeer told the Pontotoc Progress.

The Warriors had two injuries in the Itawamba game that has Dampeer concerned. Blake Littlejohn, the starting center and long snapper, went out in the first half and his loss resulted in Pontotoc having to take a costly safety right before half.

“We’ve got to get Rickey Nelson and Blake back for the Vicksburg game,” Dampeer said.


Contact Jeff Byrd at