Gators face Provine for homecoming

Published 12:29 pm Thursday, September 29, 2022

Even after three lopsided region wins, Vicksburg High football coach Todd McDaniel believes his team has not yet lived up to its full potential.

And that, he said, needs to change.

The Gators (3-2, 3-0 MHSAA Region 2-5A) play Provine (2-3, 0-3) for homecoming on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium. It marks the start of the transition to a more difficult part of the schedule where half-hearted efforts will no longer be good enough to skate by.

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“We have not played a complete game this year. We have not put together a complete game in all three phases. It would be nice for us to start putting together complete games from this point forward,” McDaniel said. “We can’t afford to go out there and have an incomplete game on either side of the football, because these teams are going to be too good and you might not be able to recover from it.”

Vicksburg’s last four opponents all have winning records, whereas the first three region foes had a combined two victories. Provine marks the middle ground between the two.

Provine won its first two games, then dropped the next three in region play. It lost 22-14 to undefeated Callaway in overtime and hung tough with Neshoba Central before losing 38-20.

“They’re playing solid football. When you walk on the field with those guys you’ve got to respect those teams and really go out there and play football,” McDaniel said. “I just know we’ve got to be ready and have our A-game from this point forward.”

Following a 40-0 win over Jim Hill last week, McDaniel said the Gators had brought their “C- or D-game.” They were never seriously threatened against an overmatched opponent, but also didn’t fully pull away until the second half.

A half-dozen starters sat out because of injuries. Even so, McDaniel said, it was the kind of performance that made him take a hard look at all aspects of the operation.

“Every position on this football team is rented — even mine. There is no place for entitlement. There is no place for complacency,” McDaniel said. “I told my guys they’re either going to swim or they’re going to sink, but if you’re doing it the wrong way we’re not going to sink together. We’re going to put some people in to make sure that they get it done themselves, and we’re going to make sure we have the best 11 people on the field at the same time.”

A win this week would put the Gators in a strong position. Beating Provine would give them four region wins, when five or six will likely secure a playoff berth.

More important, McDaniel said, is keeping pace with the other frontrunners. The Region 2-5A race is shaping up to have five contenders for four postseason slots. One of them will wind up as the odd man out, and McDaniel doesn’t want it to be his team.

“We have to kick in that door. We have to understand that the fourth win is the most important win. We’ll worry about five when it’s time. But every win brings us one step closer to the playoffs and the district championship,” he said. “We can’t afford to lose one, simply because we’re in a race with other teams that are undefeated within the district. We’ve got to make sure we keep pace with them and don’t fall a game behind.”

Games starting at 7 p.m.
Prairie View at Porter’s Chapel (Radio: 104.5 FM)
St. Aloysius at Clinton Christian (Radio: 101.3 FM)
Briarfield Academy at Sharkey-Issaquena Academy
Oak Forest at Central Hinds
Sci Academy at Madison Parish
Games starting at 7:30 p.m.
Provine at Vicksburg (Radio: 107.7 FM)
Brandon at Warren Central (Radio: 105.5 FM)
Jefferson County at Port Gibson
Starkville at Clinton

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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