Gators get ready for Red Carpet Bowl by playing Laurel in jamboree

Published 2:54 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2023

The games that count don’t start until next week for Vicksburg High. The ones that really count are still nearly two months away.

This Friday, however, the Gators play the game that will set the tone for what’s ahead — and that makes it a very important and pivotal week on the schedule.

The Gators will take on Laurel Friday at 6:30 p.m. in a preseason jamboree at Bay Springs High School. First-year head coach Christopher Lacey said it’s a chance to work on schemes, settle position battles, and generally get a feel for how everything is coming together heading into next week’s season opener against Holmes County Central.

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“Treating it like it’s a good old-fashioned game week,” Lacey said. “Getting the kids acclimated to how things go on, even how we dress on game day. It is a real game. We’re hitting somebody else. It’s going to be a good indication of what’s in front of us.”

The Gators have a veteran team with 21 seniors and a number of returning starters on the offensive side of the ball. Several players are being recruited by Division I schools. There are still enough new players, though, that Lacey said the jamboree is a good chance to get their feet under them.

Vicksburg’s spring game was cut short because of severe weather, so this will be the first varsity game experience for many young players. Just as important, Lacey said, is that it will be their first time to go through a full week of game preparation that is more intense than the daily summer workouts they’ve endured the past two months.

“A lot of them aren’t used to it,” Lacey said. “There’s some freshmen and sophomores. They’re playing JV and aren’t used to getting into what that real game week looks like for the varsity, so it’ll be good to get them acclimated to it and understand that this isn’t a play week. It’s a procedure, and this is the way everything is.”

While the Gators’ offensive lineup is largely set, the defense is still a work in progress. Eight starters graduated, and even with Mississippi State commit Tyler Carter and 2022 Vicksburg Post Defensive Player of the Year Demarcus Johnson anchoring the line, there are plenty of position battles in play.

“We’ve still got competitions going on in the secondary. It’s more defensive stuff at linebacker. Still trying to replace Caleb Bryant, Kellen Washington and Wallyeke Curry. It’s finding the people who are going to rise. It’s a great opportunity for them to get out there and prove it,” Lacey said. “On defense it’s only two or three spots that are solidified. Everybody else is trying out. It’s going to be a great tryout for a lot of our defensive guys.”

Playing Laurel will also be a good test for the Gators as a whole. The Tornadoes have reached the playoffs 14 years in a row, and won at least one playoff game every season from 2013-21.

Lacey said there are some similarities between Laurel and Holmes County Central that make it an ideal warm-up for next week’s Red Carpet Bowl match-up.

“This is a game I wanted. I want to play a team that has Division I talent and is real physical,” Lacey said. “I think it’s an awesome tune-up for us going into the Holmes County game. Holmes is going to be a good team and you don’t want to play anybody that’s not going to give you a championship look.”

Regular season
Adams County Christian at St. Aloysius, 7 p.m.
Tallulah Academy at Riverdale, 7 p.m.
Delta Academy at Porter’s Chapel, 7:30 p.m.
North Pike at Warren Central, 6 p.m.
Vicksburg vs. Laurel, 6:30 p.m., at Bay Springs

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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