Gators reach ‘benchmark’ game

Published 9:35 am Wednesday, September 23, 2015

As soon as Vicksburg High’s schedule was finalized, coach Marcus Rogers made a mental checklist of the important games and waypoints.

Some games were just games. Others, like this week’s, got an extra circle around them.

Rogers and the Gators will host the Germantown Mavericks in their Region 2-5A opener Friday. It’s a big-time matchup with the defending region champions, a state title contender, and a chance to make a big step forward in their own quest for championship status.

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“We’re real fired up, because this is one of the games on the schedule, in the spring, that we marked as kind of a benchmark game,” Rogers said. “You always circle Warren Central. But then you look down at your district schedule and see how you line up as far as getting into the state playoffs. That was one of the games we highlighted.”

The Gators have plenty of reason to be excited. They’re 3-1 coming off last week’s bye, with a defense that’s allowed just 10.5 points per game. They’re among a handful of teams in Region 2-5A that seem to have separated from the pack as contenders.

Germantown (2-2) is another.

“As a coach, you’re supposed to go game by game. As the head coach you can kind of look ahead a little bit,” Rogers said. “I figure if we take this one we can ride into Grenada (on Oct. 30) 8-1. No team is more important than the other one. But you look at your talent and other people’s talent and how we measure up, and I think this game is one where they have a lot of athletes. They won the 100 and 200 in track and a lot of those guys are on that football team. They can play.”

Indeed they can.

Germantown has one of the top cornerback prospects in the nation with senior Nigel Knott, as well as a good running back in Dalton Bradfield (394 rushing yards, two touchdowns) and a knack for scoring on special teams. Taury Dixon, who also plays cornerback, has already returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.

“A lot of people talk about Nigel Knott, but like I tell people (Dixon) is the one you’ve got to game plan against,” Rogers said.

Vicksburg spent its bye week gearing up for Germantown while also breaking down its own strengths and weaknesses.

Although the defense has been outstanding, the offense has only scored 71 points and was shut out once. The running game was averaging less than 100 yards per game before breaking out for 205 against Yazoo City in the last game before the bye.

Rogers said last week’s open date was a good time to step back, correct some mistakes, and come out stronger on the other side.

“It helped us with nagging injuries. It helped us with breaking (quarterback) Joe (Johnson) down mechanically. We had sort of a spring practice last week, where we did a lot of technique and fundamentals offensively and defensively,” Rogers said.

Germantown at Vicksburg

Friday, 7 p.m.

Radio: 1490 AM

Online: For live scoring updates on Friday night, visit

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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