Gators look to end six-game slide with rival Vikings Friday

Published 6:00 am Thursday, August 30, 2018

Like any game, Vicksburg High coach Tim Hughes saw some good and bad things when he broke down film of last week’s season opener against Clinton.

It was what he didn’t see that impressed and encouraged him the most.

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“There was never a time where I saw them lay it down. Even at the end of the game, with the competition going on it didn’t feel like a five- or six-score game,” Hughes said. Clinton beat Vicksburg 48-0. “Everything is a habit, and winning is something you’ve got to learn.”

Hughes and the Gators will try to kick start that winning habit this Friday night when they host archrival Warren Central in the 38th edition of the Warren County Super Bowl. Warren Central is coming off a 17-14 loss to defending Class 6A champion Pearl in its opener last week, but has outscored Vicksburg 159-41 in the last five meetings between the teams.

Including a forfeit in 2012, Warren Central has won six in a row in the series after Vicksburg won five straight from 2007-11.

Hughes is in his first season as head coach, but is intimately familiar with the rivalry as a former assistant coach and player at VHS. He said this has historically been a week where it’s easy to improve because of the increased focus players bring to the game.

“I don’t think you’re going to have a problem with that. I haven’t been a part of it in seven years, but I can’t imagine it’s changed that much,” Hughes said. “If you win it’s an emotional high, and if you lose it’s a low. But once it’s over you move past it. When there’s a lot of focus you can get a lot put in.”

The 2018 Gators are still very much a work in progress. The game against Clinton was the first time they’d been on the field for a competitive game since their spring jamboree in May. They didn’t play a preseason jamboree and the opener against Clarksdale was canceled because of severe weather.

With new starters at nearly every position, the lack of game experience showed. Clinton scored 31 points in the first half as quarterback Hunter Hulsey threw three touchdown passes.

In response, Hughes said he’s shuffling the lineup — not as panicked reaction to a lopsided loss, but rather to create some depth that will lead to better results across the board.

“We have to make moves to have a valid attack on both sides of the ball,” Hughes said. “We’re not shifting all of our experience to one side of the ball or the other. It’s not a wholesale thing. It’s some strategic moves to try and create a depth chart.”

Hughes added that while he plans to continue tinkering up until the Region 2-5A opener at Germantown on Sept. 21, he’s not treating the first few games as meaningless exhibitions.

“You can make up a lot of ground as long as you can keep the morale up,” Hughes said. “(Losing) hurts, and that’s a part of it. It’s definitely not a ‘Who cares?’ It matters,” he said. “If these kids aren’t going out to compete and win, we’re doing it wrong as coaches.”

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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