Gators in need of some wins

Published 8:47 am Wednesday, October 7, 2015

After suffering a gut-punching 14-9 loss to Neshoba Central last week, Vicksburg High is still looking for a boost in confidence as it ventures further into its district schedule.

The loss jeopardized the team’s goal of hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2008. Vicksburg (3-3, 0-2 Region 2-5A) needs to start winning to keep its playoff dreams alive and hopes to steer the ship in the right direction against Lanier (3-4, 0-2) Friday night in Memorial Stadium.

Coach Marcus Rogers said in order for the Gators to get a win, they simply have to limit mistakes and keep playing defense.

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“Our game plan is to run the football and keep our team in it long enough to win,” Rogers said. “It’s at a point of the season where stuff is ironing out. The playoff picture is not all the way done. We need a win bad for the psyche of my kids over here and the psyche of the coach.”

Both teams are on a two-game losing streak.

Lanier was run into the ground in a 51-6 loss to Ridgeland. The Bulldogs and Gators are tied for last place in Region 2-5A, and Friday’s game will likely eliminate the loser from playoff contention.

“One thing I know, after Friday night somebody’s going to be a winner,” Rogers said. “It’s an expectation that we should win this ballgame and that’s what I’m trying to get communicated to my kids. We’ve got to get to a point where it’s not ‘hoping we win,’ it’s got to be an expectation.”

Since the summer, Rogers has firmly stated his belief in running the football and the link between a successful rushing attack and winning.

The Gators have rushed for 697 yards through six games. Quarterback Joe Johnson leads the team with 290 yards and a touchdown, while Tim Jackson follows with 183 yards.

Antonio Brown, primarily used as a linebacker, has seen small amounts of time as a running back. He’s carried the ball 24 times for 112 yards and three touchdowns.

“Our running backs are not bad, they’re athletic guys,” Rogers said. “Just up front. Our first level is being blocked pretty good but guys having linebackers scraping on us and making plays is what’s been hurting us.”

Rogers said the Gators have to clean up some minor details on the offensive line, adding the team doesn’t have the strongest guys up front and are low in depth.

He hopes to have a good night running the ball against Lanier.

“They’re not as strong as the teams we’ve played the last couple of weeks. Their linebackers aren’t bad,” Rogers said. “They play a lot of man coverage so they’re going to crowd the box, but we still have to establish some form of a running game.”

The Gators are looking forward to the return of Devontay Knight, who went down with an elbow injury during the preseason jamboree in August.

Knight, a defensive back and backup quarterback, will be an added weapon for the Gators and brings leadership and athleticism on the field.

“Any time you got a kid like that he should be on the field. I think him and Joe (Johnson) complement each other well,” Rogers said. “It gives the defense more to plan for, more to have to scout and more to do during the week. To have four or five days to plan for both of them is going to be tough on anybody.”

Up next

Lanier at Vicksburg

Friday, 7 p.m.

Radio: 1490 AM

Online: For live scoring updates Friday night, visit and