Vicksburg High spring jamboreeJohnson pleased with Gators’ effort

Published 11:29 pm Saturday, May 19, 2012

Vicksburg High fans finally got to see new coach Tavares Johnson’s team in action in a three-team jamboree Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

The Gators were handed two losses against a pair of Class 3A playoff teams, losing 18-8 to Wilkinson County and 6-0 against Jefferson County. Johnson, however, said he was happy with the team’s effort in the two-quarter scrimmages and hopes it carries over to summer workouts.

“The guys kept competing,” Johnson said. “We just need to find some playmakers. I felt like we left three or four touchdowns on the field. Twice we had them beat deep and didn’t make the play. You have to make plays when your name is called. Still, we had some bright spots. The offensive line didn’t do bad. We did pretty well in our goal line scheme which we call the train formation.”

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Vicksburg was playing without projected starting quarterback Tavares Johnson, Jr. He broke his foot during the first week of spring practice.

Johnson Jr., who will be a junior next season, is one of the top returning quarterbacks in the state. He led Cleveland East Side to a 14-1 record last season and threw for 2,836 yards and 28 touchdowns. Johnson Jr. came to Vicksburg when his father became the school’s coach.

Taking the snaps in the jamboree was senior Jonathan Tenner, who finished the day 9-of-20 passing for 60 yards and one interception. He also rushed for 38 yards.

“It’s just a matter of being on the same page,” Tenner said. “We have the work ethic.”

The Gators’ revamped offensive line, led by center Stephen Tate, helped produce 172 rushing yards on 38 attempts. Running back Pat Brown led the way with 99 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.

“We’ve come a good way after just three weeks of practice,” Tate said. “The train formation got us a lot of positive yardage.”

The Gators’ defense had mixed results. It gave up 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns to Wilkinson County quarterback Devin Voorhies, but shut out Jefferson County after giving up a touchdown on the first possession of that scrimmage.

Against Wilkinson County, the Gators also produced a safety after Voorhies was called for grounding in the end zone and Cortez Linzy had an interception. The pick was called back for defensive holding, however.

In the game against Jefferson County, Tenner had two interceptions — one at the 2-yard line — that thwarted scoring opportunities.

“What we need is more Jonathan Tenners,” Johnson said. “We’re pretty young at corner and even had an eighth grader in there, but they battled.”