Vicksburg’s defense making a statement

Published 8:55 am Monday, August 31, 2015

For a long time, it seemed like the word “defense” should have been part of the foreign language curriculum at Vicksburg High.

The Gators have had some excellent offensive teams in recent years, but been a defensive wasteland. The last time they allowed less than 20 points per game for a season was in 2008.

That looks like it’s finally about to change.

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Vicksburg held Terry to 195 yards of total offense in a 27-6 win Friday night. It was the second consecutive dominant performance by the defense, which has allowed a total of 19 points in its first two games while forcing four turnovers and registering eight sacks.

“I see them every day, so I knew they were going to be good. I didn’t know they were going to be this good,” Vicksburg coach Marcus Rogers said.

Since allowing 10.4 points per game in 2008 — also the last time it hosted a playoff game — Vicksburg’s defense has undergone a swift decline. It allowed an average of at least 33 points per game each season from 2009-12. The last two years have been better, 24.6 points in 2013 and 26.5 last season, but still below average.

The resurgence is being led by linebackers Antonio Brown and Roderick Williams, who are two of just four seniors in the starting lineup. Williams has 17 tackles through two games and Brown has 15.

“You’re talking about guys that have been through it all. From 1-10 (in 2012) when they were freshmen, to now,” Rogers said. “They’re feisty kids. They want to win. You can tell by the way they walk and the way they carry themselves in the school building.”

Defensive backs Paul Wilson and Tyler McDowell are the other senior starters and have also played a major role. Wilson, a four-year starter, had nine tackles, a pass breakup and a forced fumble against Terry.

The other seven starters are sophomores and juniors, which has Rogers excited not just for what they might do this year but in coming years as well.

Defensive linemen Brandon Kees and Jomon O’Neal, both sophomores, already have two sacks apiece. Another sophomore, Mike Sullivan, has three sacks.

“I think the sky is the limit for them, because they have depth,” Rogers said. “We have seven sophomores on defense. They’re going to be here for the future.”

The defense has powered the Gators to a 2-0 start heading into this week’s rivalry game against Warren Central at Viking Stadium.

In an ironic twist, Warren Central’s defense — the one that allowed the fewest points in Class 6A each of the last two seasons — has struggled this season while the Gators have surged.

Warren Central (1-1) has allowed 84 points in its first two games. The Vikings have also scored 73 points to compensate for the leaky defense.

Rogers said his team’s fast start is nice, but it’s got to continue for it to turn into a successful season.

“We’ve very happy. But like we’ve talked about, we’re not the Vicksburg of old. We don’t want to get too high or too low,” Rogers said. “We’re going to stay on an even keel, and our goal is to win a game a week.”


• Friday, 7 p.m.

• Radio: 1490 AM (Vicksburg) and 105.5 FM (Warren Central)

• Online: For live scoring updates, visit or

• This will be the 35th edition of the Vicksburg-Warren Central game. WC leads the all-time series 26-8 and has won the last three meetings, but VHS has won six of the last 10.

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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