City, school district taking steps to curb traffic Friday

Published 11:30 am Thursday, August 21, 2014

For Warren County’s football teams, the players on the other side of the ball will be the biggest challenge on Friday.

For their fans, the toughest opponents figure to be traffic and heat.

The 2014 Red Carpet Bowl kicks off at Vicksburg High’s Memorial Stadium at 3:30 p.m. when Porters Chapel Academy takes on Union Christian. It’s the first time PCA has played in the Red Carpet Bowl, and the first time since 1994 that the annual football extravaganza has been played as a tripleheader. PCA’s game will be followed by Warren Central vs. Terry at 6 p.m. and Vicksburg vs. McComb at 8:30.

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The expanded format will bring with it some unique challenges, however. The kickoff will come about 20 minutes before Vicksburg High ends its school day, meaning traffic around the stadium could be congested.

Both Vicksburg police and sheriff’s deputies will be assisting with traffic around Lee and Drummond Streets leading up to and after the games, Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong said.

“Because of the traffic volume and pedestrian foot traffic, we are asking the motoring public to be very cautious as they travel around the city and the football stadium area,” Armstrong said. “We’re going to ask them to watch out for pedestrians.”

Red Carpet Bowl committee chairman David Boolos said the kickoff for PCA’s game was moved up 30 minutes from its original start time to avoid the traffic gridlock.

“That’s why we moved the game to 3:30. We tried to dodge that, so we could miss that. Hopefully everybody will be in their seats when school lets out,” Boolos said.

PCA’s fans — as well as Warren Central’s fans for the 6 p.m. game against Terry — will sit in the visitors’ bleachers on the Lee Street side. They’ll likely park away from the school, at the City Pool lot and along Army Navy Drive, which will further ease congestion.

Once inside the stadium, though, fans will face another challenge with the brutal August heat. Temperatures are forecast to be in the mid-90s at kickoff, with a heat index well over 100 degrees, and won’t begin to ease up until the sun goes down.

The worst of the heat will be for the first game. There’s little shade at Memorial Staidum during the afternoon, and fans will have to endure the high temperatures while sitting on metal bleachers. Boolos said there were no plans to have misting fans or other cooling devices in the stands. He encouraged spectators to drink plenty of water.

“There’s really nowhere to go. You just better come prepared,” Boolos said. “It is going to be brutal.”

On the field, players will also have to fight through the heat for the unusually early game. Heat timeouts will be taken in the middle of each quarter, as per Mississippi Association of Independent Schools and Mississippi High School Activities Association rules.

Porters Chapel coach Wayne Lynch said he felt his team’s preseason conditioning program will help his team make it through the game without incident.

“We hope that the officials there will understand the temperature and I’m sure they will. They do a good job of giving water timeouts and things like that,” Lynch said. “We have been conditioning in the heat of the day to prepare for the heat that we’ll be facing. Obviously it will cool off a little bit toward the end but it’s going to be pretty hot the entire game. It is what it is. We have to take it and run with it. I feel like our guys are in shape enough to handle it. I’m sure we’ll have some issues here or there but for the most part we’ll be good.”

Vicksburg Post reporters Josh Edwards and Cory Gunkel contributed to this story.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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