Gators earn payback in successful season

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2008

COLUMBUS — A drier field, a couple of inches here and there, and the Vicksburg Gators could’ve been the ones playing Class 4A’s second- ranked team this week, Noxubee County, in the third round of the playoffs.

Instead, New Hope (8-4) advanced to meet fellow Region 4-4A rival Noxubee County with Friday night’s 13-7 win over the visiting Gators on a soggy Trojan Field.

Vicksburg will have to settle for an excellent 9-3 season, its best since 2001 when it went all the way to the Class 5A semifinals until running into eventual state champ Starkville.

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A first-round, 30-21 victory over Pontotoc, was the Gators’ first playoff win since that season. Add to that six wins in Region 3-4A, that included three over teams (Yazoo City, Canton and Ridgeland) that beat them last year, coupled with a third win in four years over crosstown rival Warren Central and the Gators have a lot to be pleased with.

“Yes, indeed, it was a good season,” VHS senior linebacker Carlos Williams said. The reigning Vicksburg Post Defensive Player of the Year had another standout season with 140 tackles.

“We fell short in this game, but as a team, we really came together. I think we showed what we were about on defense in the second half. We tightened up our defense and gave ourselves a chance,” Williams said.

Trojan Field’s muddy surface, however, took away the Gators’ primary offensive asset — speed.

“It made a difference because it cut down on our speed,” VHS defensive tackle Anthony Addison said.

Veteran Gators coach Alonzo Stevens was down after the loss, but thankful for the effort his team displayed.

“I really thought we would’ve gone farther than just the second round. Defensively, we were right there. Those guys played their hearts out. We could’ve been a little more sound on offense. We’d do something good and then shoot ourselves in the foot. But I really thought special teams would be the difference.,” Stevens said of his team’s two missed field goals which could’ve sent the game into overtime.

“This, though, was a great group of guys to coach,” Stevens said.

The Gators were an experienced team with 30 seniors. Several have a bright future with college scholarship offers being lined up.

At the top will be quarterback Les Lemons. For a team, looking for someone to be the “Wildcat” in the “Wildcat” formation, the quick and strong Lemons would be an ideal fit for the role. In his senior season, Lemons finished with 932 yards rushing and six touchdowns while passing for another 804 yards (65 of 138) and six scores.

 He has been looked at by Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss.

Malcolm Butler has ideal speed and size for a corner and could be in high demand come February. And then there is Williams, though smaller than most collegiate linebackers, who plays with a revved-up motor.


Contact Jeff Byrd at