Gators try to get right against Forest Hill

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Vicksburg High lost its opener to Holmes County Central 25-0, but the score that really bothered head coach Christopher Lacey was 43-10.

The latter, he said, was the number of missed tackles the Gators had vs. Holmes compared to their per-game average the past couple of seasons. It’s a symptom of a larger issue — lack of focus and execution — that’s been plaguing the team the past two weeks, and that they need to sort out before it becomes a troubling character trait.

“It’s just getting out of your own way. That’s something our players are going to have to learn and understand,” Lacey said. “To me, it’s exciting to see them go through that, win, lose or draw. They’re going to have to mature and become young men and take responsibility for the way that they play.”

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While the missed tackles bothered Lacey, who was Vicksburg’s defensive coordinator from 2020-22 before taking over as head coach this season, there have been plenty of struggles on both sides of the ball.

The offense has moved the ball inside the red zone a half-dozen times against Holmes and in the preseason jamboree vs. Laurel, but has not scored a point. Going back to last season and including this preseason, the Gators have not scored in 12 consecutive quarters.

An eight-minute drive early against Holmes stalled, and another ended in a fumble. On one play, a receiver stepped out of bounds a yard short of the marker on a fourth down play.

The Gators have plenty of players back from last year’s group that finished 10-3 and reached the MHSAA Class 5A semifinals — which might be part of the problem. Lacey said overconfidence and living on last year’s success are other issues that need to be fixed fast.

“They’ve got to humble themselves and understand that this year’s team ain’t last year’s team. Every year the variables change,” Lacey said. “You’ve got to continue to put in the work and do the stuff that it takes to be good. It’s a big reality check for a lot of them.”

On a positive note, the Gators appear to have a chance to pile up some victories and get some swagger back during the rest of their non-region schedule. Their next four opponents all had losing records in 2022 and only one won its opener last week.

First up is Forest Hill (0-1), which has been a punching bag for the Gators the past two seasons. Vicksburg beat Forest Hill 46-0 in 2021 and 54-6 in 2022.

Forest Hill gave up an average of 40.5 points per game last season and lost 57-0 to Florence last week. Still, with all of the mistakes his team is making at the moment, Lacey said it would be unwise to bank on a win based on recent history.

“Anybody can be beat. We’ve been in situations before where if you go in thinking you’re going to take somebody lightly, they’ll get you. And the way we’re playing right now, everybody’s saying, ‘We can get them,’” Lacey said. “It’s one of those things where you’ve got to humble yourself and play everybody like they’re the Super Bowl champs.”

All games start at 7 p.m.
Forest Hill at Vicksburg (Radio: 107.7 FM)
Warren Central at Pearl (Radio: 105.5 FM)
Riverdale at Porter’s Chapel Academy (Radio; 104.5 FM)
East Rankin at St. Aloysius (Radio: 101.3 FM)
Tallulah Academy at Briarfield
Deer Creek at Sharkey-Issaquena
Central Hinds at Amite School Center
Jim Hill at Port Gibson

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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