Gators ready to play in a real game Friday

Published 7:00 am Thursday, August 23, 2018

The rain’s reign has put the reins on Vicksburg High’s football season thus far.

First, the Gators had to hastily reschedule a planned scrimmage because of the threat of bad weather. Then, their season opener was canceled because of actual thunderstorms last Friday night.

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They’ll try to get on the field again this Friday, when they hit the road to face Clinton. Tim Hughes has waited all summer to make his debut as Vicksburg’s head coach said dealing with the anticipation of that and of seeing what exactly his team can and can’t do on the field has been difficult.

“I’ve felt like that since I’ve gotten here. But that’s OK. Eventually that won’t be the case,” Hughes said. “But it is one more week of catch up. We’re playing a team that did get to play last week, and played a jamboree, and is very secure in what they do.”

In terms of X’s and O’s, Hughes said being a week behind their opponents for the first month of the season will be a challenge for the Gators.

Clinton went on the road and beat South Panola last Thursday, 14-7 in overtime. The following night, Vicksburg was set to host Clarksdale in the Red Carpet Bowl until heavy rain and thunderstorms forced the teams to head home early.

“We’re at Game 1. It’s Week 2, plus the jamboree, but it’s Game 1. It’s weird,” Hughes said. “We’re doing things the right way. You just know it’s going to take those bumps and bruises that you get in that first game to clean things up, and you want to go ahead and get them so you can work on them.”

There are some advantages to not playing, Hughes said. Thanks to having a new coaching staff and practically an entirely new roster — 34 seniors, including most of the starters on either side of the ball, graduated from last year’s squad — there’s little to offer Clinton in the way of a scouting report. The only game film of this year’s team is from the spring game in May.

“It’s a trade off,” Hughes said. “At least they’re not going to be able to see what our strengths and weaknesses are. But on their end, they made and get to correct those first-game mistakes.”

Clinton won the MHSAA Class 6A championship in 2016 behind quarterback Cam Akers, now a star running back at Florida State, and then finished 5-6 and missed the playoffs last season.

The Arrows still appear to be in rebuilding mode. They committed several turnovers in their ugly, low-scoring win over South Panola. Hughes, however, said keeping the perennial state power Tigers to seven points on their home field shows that Clinton is not an opponent to take lightly.

“They are still full of big guys on the offensive and defensive fronts, and have guys that can run and be physical,” Hughes said. “They’re going to run the ball. They know the throws they want to make and are going to have success with it. They know how to establish control, and controlled that game.”

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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