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The little things add up to a big grind for VHS

After my weekly interview with Vicksburg High football coach Tim Hughes had wrapped up on Monday, we talked briefly about the LSU-Texas football game.

Hughes pointed out that a critical touchdown pass that was dropped by a Texas player early in the game was actually caused by a subtle bump from an LSU defender at the line of scrimmage. The bump caused the player to be slightly out of position for the pass, which in turn made an easy catch more difficult that it should have been.

It was one of those moments that make you realize, no matter how much you watch football, you don’t see the game the way an expert eye does. It also showed how the little, unseen things can affect the final outcome and in that regard it made perfect sense that it was something Hughes would notice.

For the past few months, Hughes and his VHS players have had to stress over mundane things most teams take for granted. Construction has reduced the school’s football practice field to a sliver and closed off Memorial Stadium entirely while artificial turf was laid down.

While the vast majority of Mississippi’s high school football teams get dressed in their fieldhouse and then step out the door onto the practice field, the Gators are having to bus 10 minutes away — in two waves, since only one bus is allocated for the task — to Vicksburg Junior High.

Of course, it’s not as simple as getting on a bus and driving over. Equipment needs to be moved. Players need to get there. Everything and everybody has to be packed and unpacked, lest a third trip be needed to fetch some forgotten item.

Hughes said he’s cooked up timetables to keep everything moving, but the process still takes about an hour on either side of practice and sometimes doubles the length of a 2 ½-hour workout. Paying attention to the details and being organized is an exhausting necessity, since it’s the only way to keep it from taking even longer.

The Gators finally got to practice on their new field this week, and will play on it for the first time on Friday night. Workers this week have been feverishly cleaning things up and getting the stadium ready, but there will still be a few minor details that won’t be completed.

The little things will make Memorial Stadium whole again. This might be one time, however, where overlooking them a tad is forgivable. In this case, just having the stadium open for business again on any level is a welcome sight for everyone.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor at The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

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 sports reporters in the paper's 137-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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