Vicksburg, Grenada meet with a lot on the line

Published 9:05 am Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ever since he started plotting out this season, way back in January, Vicksburg High coach Marcus Rogers has had his eye on Friday, Oct. 28.

Forget the Red Carpet Bowl.

Warren Central? Meh.

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Rogers knew that if everything played out like he hoped, Oct. 28 would be the most important date in the Gators’ quest for the Region 2-5A championship.

Now, finally, it’s here.

The Gators (8-2, 4-1 Region 2-5A) host Grenada (7-2, 4-1) Friday night at 7 at Memorial Stadium. Both teams have already clinched playoff berths, but the winner will likely earn at least a home game in the first round and keep its hopes of a region title alive.

“Every district game is a big one. It’s a cliché type deal. But this is the biggest game on the schedule. Other than Warren Central, this is the one that we have been looking at all year,” Rogers said. “Not saying we looked past Germantown, but we figured if we could do what we needed to do the whole year and get to this Grenada game still able to contend for a region championship and host a playoff game, this is what we put all the work in for in the winter and spring and summer.”

Grenada started the season as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press Class 5A poll, but dropped out of the poll completely after a 23-20 loss to Germantown on Sept. 30. Grenada also lost to Tennessee power Memphis University School on Sept. 9.

The Chargers have won the rest of their games, however, and remain an extremely talented and dangerous team. Senior quarterback and safety C.J. Avery was selected to play in the prestigious Under Armour All-America game earlier this week, and Rogers called him “the best defensive player in the state.”

“They’ve fallen off people’s radar, but I’ve watched them. They get better every week. They are a force to be reckoned with, especially running the ball,” Rogers said.

Avery also paces the offense despite having a modest stat line this season. He’s thrown for just 453 yards and seven touchdowns on 26-of-62 passing, and run for 194 yards. Rogers said Avery does a good job of setting things up, though. Running back Deon House has 1,004 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“He’s a running quarterback, but he doesn’t run it much. He sprints out a lot, throws little hitches, little screens, that type of deal,” Rogers said. “But he’s dangerous because he gets the ball in his hands every play. So you get guys sometimes standing around watching him play, and he’s handing the ball off to someone else. They’ve got a dangerous running back.”

Vicksburg is coming into the Grenada game off an uneven performance against Canton. The Gators won 34-26, but committed three turnovers and allowed the Tigers to hang around with a chance to tie in the final minutes.

While admitting it wasn’t the kind of performance he enjoys, Rogers said he was happy the Gators had it and were able to survive it. The close game followed three blowout wins and served as both a reality check and a gut check. Fighting through the mistakes, Rogers said, showed him something about his team’s mental makeup that should pay dividends as it heads toward the postseason.

“They made some mistakes last week. I’m happy it happened. We used to make mistakes like that and lose. We made mistakes and still had the game in control pretty much the whole game,” Rogers said. “It could have easily been a blowout, but it wasn’t. Sometimes you need those games to prepare you for going into the playoffs and for a team like this, because this is going to be a 12-round heavyweight fight.”

Now the Gators have to win another game they’ve often lost in the past. Each of the last two years they’ve faced a strong Grenada team as an underdog and let close games slip away. This is a chance to prove something to the rest of the state — and themselves — that they can prevail on a big stage.

“It’s this type game that we haven’t won in the past,” Rogers said. “I equate it to a Warren Central or a Germantown, two perennial powerhouses and playoff teams, and we haven’t won them. So it’s time for us to turn the corner and get over that hump.”

All games start at 7 p.m.
Grenada at Vicksburg (Radio: 1490 AM/107.7 FM)
Warren Central at Starkville (Radio: 105.5 FM)
St. Aloysius at Heritage Academy (Radio: 101.3 FM)
Franklin Academy at Tallulah Academy
Sharkey-Issaquena at Briarfield Academy
Port Gibson at Hazlehurst
Madison Parish at Union Parish

ONLINE: For live scoring updates on Friday night, follow us at and

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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