Gators make serious strides

Published 12:09 pm Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Coming off one of the worst football seasons since the school’s inception, Vicksburg High coach Alonzo Stevens was looking for some bright signs during the Gators’ spring workouts.

Vicksburg wrapped up 15 days of work with a jamboree at Taylorsville High School on Friday. The Gators took on Northeast Jones and Raleigh in the six-team jamboree which also featured West Jones.

Stevens called the spring work a success.

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“We’ve had a good 15 days. We’re much better off at this time than we were at this time last year. Last year we had just two starters back, now we have a good nucleus. The big thing is what they do now through the summer until Aug. 31 when we play Gulfport,” Stevens said.

This time last year, Vicksburg had suffered heavy graduation losses and had just two starters returning. That led to a miserable 2009 season when the Gators finished 1-10. At least the one win came against archrival Warren Central.

The good news for the Gators is that three of the stars from that win had a solid spring and will look to lead the team in the fall. Running back Kawayne Gaston, quarterback Cameron Cooksey and tight end/defensive end Namonta Gaines will be counted on heavily.

“Cooksey looked real sharp. You can see the difference between a kid who had no starts, when he took over the quarterback job, to one who has started 11 games,” Stevens said of the rising junior.

Gaston provided the Gators with a running attack in the final four games of last season, something they didn’t have during the first seven contests in which they averaged less than two yards per carry.

“At 200 pounds, he’s a big running back for us. We just need to get him to shut up about stuff and just play,” Stevens said.

Gaines, at 6-foot, 240 pounds, is the Gators top senior prospect. He has already passed the American College Test with a 19. He also has good measurables in the bench (260), dead lift (415), and squat (420).

“Namonta is definitely our best prospect, especially since he’s made his score. He can play either tight end or defensive end and he’ll play both for us this fall,” Stevens said.

One area where Stevens said the Gators made the most progress was in the receiving corps.

“We’re better at wide receiver than we’ve been in a while. Bobby Twilley, AJ Stamps and Adam Reed looked good. We also have (Milan) Nasif, who made a 29 on his ACT,” Stevens said.

“I also feel like we found our fullback in Eric Funches and another tight end in Kendrick Parson.”

Defensively, the Gators still have some problems.

“Teams threw the ball on us pretty good,” Stevens said.

He hopes to correct that problem with the team’s regular play in the Jackson Public School’s 7-on-7 passing league and a trip on June 10-11 to Auburn’s camp.