Gators head to Grenada still with a chance to make the playoffs

Published 9:47 am Wednesday, October 28, 2015

If the Vicksburg Gators can bring the same intensity and play with the same emotion they brought against Warren Central into their game with Grenada, coach Marcus Rogers believes they have a shot of taking down the No. 1 team in Region 2-5A.

They need to, if they still want to earn a playoff berth.

The Gators (5-4, 2-3 Region 2-5A) go on the road Friday night to play first-place Grenada (7-2, 5-0) in a must-win game. Vicksburg can clinch a playoff berth by winning its last two games, but will be eliminated from contention if it loses either one. The regular-season finale is next week at home against Holmes County Central.

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“It’s an uphill battle. We’re playing with house money,” Rogers said. “Why not go in there and sell out and leave it all on the field and live with the result?”

The Gators beat Canton 19-16 last week to stay alive in the playoff race, and also stop a slide in which they had lost three out of four games.

Now that the Gators have played with a nucleus of two quarterbacks and a trio of running backs for about a month, they seem to be gaining some momentum. Vicksburg rushed for more than 100 yards as a team three times in its first six games, but has done it in each of the last three.

Rogers said the offensive execution is getting better and they’ve worked to clean up mistakes on the offensive line.

“The running game will be there, we must block the first level though. They run a 3-3 defense, 3-5-3 type deal and we’ve seen that all year,” Rogers said. We have to get a body on a body and execute our plays.”

Grenada is the top team in Region 2-5A but, Rogers said, not the best team on the Gators’ schedule. He gave that honor to Warren Central. The Chargers are still a quality team coming into this game on a roll.

Grenada hasn’t lost since its final non-region game against Memphis University School on Sept. 11. Its average margin of victory against Region 2-5A opponents is 20 points.

One point of excellence for Grenada is how well it runs the ball.

Davarius Bridges and Deon House have 1,864 of the Chargers’ 2,901 total rushing yards and have scored 16 out of the team’s 17 touchdowns on the ground. House and Bridges are the third- and fifth-leading rushers in Region 2-5A with 972 and 892 yards, respectively.

Rogers wants to eliminate this threat and turn Grenada into one-dimensional team.

“That’s our goal every week. We feel like our back four is our strength, our corners and safeties,” he said. “We’re going to sell out on the run. They’re big but they’re slow.”

Rogers compared Grenada to Harrison Central, which Vicksburg beat 14-13 in the season opener.

“It’s a Harrison Central type team where they’re pulling the guard, they’re pulling the tackle. They have a big tight end that’s probably the best player on the field. We’re just going to tear the box down and stop them from running,” Rogers said.

Defensively, the Gators can stop the aerial game with pressure from the team’s pass rushers. Compared to other teams the Gators have played, Rogers said Grenada’s passing game isn’t really good and the speed of their linebackers such as Roderick Williams, Paul Wilson and Antonio Brown will be hard to prepare for.

Grenada quarterback Jaquarrius Bell has thrown for 1,048 yards and 18 touchdowns, but has completed only 51.4 percent of his passes. Vicksburg, meanwhile, is averaging three sacks per game and has 11 in its last two outings.

“They’re going to have a more traditional passing game, with your bootlegs and powers and that type of deal. They haven’t seen that type of pressure we’re going to put on them. I think we’ll be in good shape,” Rogers said.

If the Gators can win their final two games, they’ll advance to the Class 5A playoffs. This doesn’t add extra pressure, however, since it’s a situation they put themselves in.

The four losses all had one thing in common: turnovers.

In three of the four losses, the Gators lost at least one fumble and they committed a total of 10 turnovers.

“At the end of the day I still think those four losses were attributed to us shooting ourselves in the foot. Vicksburg beating Vicksburg,” Rogers said. “If we take care of our business we’ll be fine and in a good situation.”

Vicksburg at Grenada

Friday, 7 p.m.

Radio: 1490 AM

Online: For live scoring updates on Friday night, visit or