Vicksburg gets off-week|Prep football

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Vicksburg Gators needed a break, and now they’re getting one.

While other teams will wait until later in the season, Vicksburg will take its MHSAA-mandated open date this Friday. For a young team reeling from a 41-point blowout at the hands of Ocean Springs in last week’s opener, it couldn’t come at a better time.

“As good as it can be,” VHS defensive coordinator Tim Hughes said of the bye week’s timing. “Coming into the season I didn’t like it. But it’s exactly what we need.”

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The open date will give the Gators what amounts to an extra week of preseason practice. Without the rigid schedule of a game week, when each day serves a specific purpose, the coaching staff is free to review fundamentals and concepts they may have missed thanks to the MHSAA’s other major schedule change — a later start to preseason practice that left teams with just two weeks to prepare for the season.

And the Gators need all the practice they can get after last week’s nightmarish opener.

Ocean Springs ran for 300 yards and held VHS to just 107 yards of total offense in a 47-6 rout. The Greyhounds scored on six straight possessions and ran in a pair of two-point conversions on swinging gate plays that were left uncovered.

It was Vicksburg’s first 40-point loss in 10 years, and Hughes chalked a lot of it up to inexperience.

“Other than two starters, I probably had 15 total quarters (of experience) returning,” Hughes said. “Like that swinging gate play. We’ve gone over that every day I’ve worked here. That’s totally my responsibility. But it’s never been covered before.”

Finding humor in defeat, Hughes joked that the one-sided loss did have one benefit.

“Luckily, we had 70 plays on defense instead of 35 so it was like getting two games in one,” he said with a laugh.

Erasing the memory of last week is something else the Gators are working on this week. As bad as the loss was, it was only the first game of the season and a tough road lays ahead. They’ll play Richwood, a perennial Class 3A playoff team from Louisiana, next Friday. After that Tylertown, a Class 3A finalist last season, comes to town. “It’s tough, but it’s motivation,” said senior defensive back Harold Pickett, who had an interception against Ocean Springs.

“It makes us want to work harder because we don’t want a losing season.”


Contact Ernest Bowker at