Heat concerns cause major schedule change for Red Carpet Bowl

Published 5:22 pm Sunday, August 20, 2023

Some of the hottest temperatures Vicksburg has ever seen have caused a major schedule change for the Red Carpet Bowl.

Because of concerns about excessive heat on Friday, the annual doubleheader has been split into two single games at separate fields.

Warren Central will play Clinton at Viking Stadium, and Vicksburg High will face Holmes County Central at Memorial Stadium. Both games will start at 7 p.m., rather than the originally scheduled 5:30 and 8 p.m. kickoffs.

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Vicksburg Warren School District athletics director James Lewis said it was a mutual decision between the district, the Red Carpet Bowl committee, and the coaches of all of the teams.

Lewis also said the decision factored in the safety not only of players, but band members, cheerleaders and spectators who will be in attendance and enduring the same heat.

The Red Carpet Bowl had been given permission by the Mississippi High School Activities Association to play at 5:30 p.m., but the decision to move and split the games was made once the latest forecast showed triple-digit temperatures for Friday.

Friday’s forecast high in Vicksburg is 105 degrees. The hottest temperature ever recorded in the city is 106, which is also the forecast high for Wednesday and Thursday.

“It’s all about the paramount concern for the health and safety of everyone,” Lewis said. “It was a lot of calls and questions, and we feel like this is what’s best for everybody involved.”

Because the game is no longer a doubleheader, ticketing is affected.

Tickets will be good for one game or the other, but not both. All ticketing is done electronically through GoFan.co, and once a ticket is scanned at one stadium on Friday it will not be honored at the other.

Tickets will still cost $10. Tickets that have already been purchased will be honored at either stadium.

Volunteers from Vicksburg High will run the concession stands at both stadiums and receive all of the proceeds.

Vicksburg head coach Christopher Lacey said he and his team will roll with all of the changes.

“I understand it. You’ve just got to adapt and adjust, so that’s what we’re going to do,” Lacey said. “It might change what we do pregame. We were set to get out of school a little earlier because of the game. Moving it is going to treat it like, I assume, a regular Friday. We go from getting the kids at 1 o’clock to getting them at 2 or 3. It’s going to be treated like a regular game day now instead of something special for the Red Carpet Bowl.”

Lacey added that he was not overly concerned about how his players will handle the heat on Friday.

“It ain’t the first time we’ve been outside in 103- or 105-degree weather. We’ve been practicing in these temperatures all summer. The kids should be acclimated. We put a big emphasis on nutrition, hydration and rest,” Lacey said. “I think everybody’s going to be OK. We haven’t had any heat issues. We take the precautionary measures to make sure the players are OK.”

The Gators will renew their rivalry with Holmes County Central. They’ve won three in a row in the series, including 37-20 last year, after losing three of the previous four.

Although the series has tilted in Vicksburg’s favor recently, Holmes County Central is a quality Week 1 opponent. The Jaguars have not had a losing record or missed the playoffs in the five seasons since Marcus Rogers took over as coach in 2018.

Rogers also was Vicksburg’s head coach from 2014-16.

“It’s become a little rivalry,” Lacey said. W”e always end up meeting each other whether it’s a district game or non-district game, and Coach (Marcus) Rogers being from here, so it’s got a lot of variables to it that make it a very competitive game.”

Friday, Aug. 25
7 p.m. – Holmes County Central at Vicksburg
7 p.m. – Clinton at Warren Central
• Tickets are available through GoFan.co and cost $10. Tickets will be honored at either game, but cannot be used for both.
• Tickets for the Vicksburg-Holmes game can be purchased here
• Tickets for the Warren Central-Clinton game can be purchased here

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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