Gators go to Grenada for first round of MHSAA Class 6A playoffs

Published 3:00 pm Thursday, November 9, 2023

It’s not a stretch to say that, with a few plays here and there, the Vicksburg Gators could be 9-1 and Region 2-6A champions. It’s also not a stretch to say they could be .500 and have finished their season already.

None of that matters now, though. All that matters is what’s in front of them at the moment.

The Gators (7-3) will go on the road Friday to play Grenada (8-3) in the first round of the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs, with a clean slate and a chance to put a rollercoaster season behind them with a deep postseason run.

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“Our ultimate goal is to win a state championship and it’s still a possibility. If that’s something you want to do, then you’ve got to learn from everything you’ve done wrong up until this point and just go play ball,” Vicksburg coach Christopher Lacey said. “Plus, it’s a new season. Everybody is 0-0. Nothing matters what you did behind you because everybody’s going to play ball.”

Five of Vicksburg’s 10 games have been decided by one score, including three of its Region 2-6A games. The Gators won three of those five, and finished the regular season on a three-game winning streak, by finding different ways to win.

Against Callaway, it was a blocked punt and a field goal that provided the winning points. The following week against Columbus the offense erupted for 36 points. In last week’s 20-7 victory over Ridgeland that clinched a playoff berth, they returned a kickoff and a fumble for touchdowns. Earlier in the season they rallied twice from double-digit deficits.

Lacey said he’d like to see the offense produce a bit more — the Columbus game was the only one in region play in which it scored more than 20 points — but was happy to get contributions across the board.

“That means you’ve got kids that can make plays. Sometimes it comes defensively, and that’s what you want,” Lacey said. “You want to be able to have your defensive guys getting into the end zone and scoring touchdowns to add extra possessions to the game for you. Our guys have done a good job doing that. But we also want to score points on offense.”

Points figure to be at a premium against Grenada. The Chargers posted three shutouts this season and allowed a total of 27 points during a five-game winning streak. They lost 28-7 to South Panola in last week’s regular-season finale.

“Grenada’s a really good football team. They’re physical, they’re fast, they’ve got got really good players in key spots. They’ve got a couple of guys who could be among the very best players in the state of Mississippi,” Lacey said. “There were no cake walks on their schedule so I know they’re battle-tested. But we’ve played some really good teams, too, so I know we’re going to be prepared just as much they’re going to be.”

Region championships are always nice, but Lacey has also stressed that state championships are even better — and that has become the goal coming down the stretch.

Vicksburg has 20 seniors on the roster, most of whom have been contributors or starters for all four years of their high school careers. Sending them out with a memorable postseason run, and preferably a gold ball, would be a great way to finish.

The winner of Friday’s game faces either Warren Central or Saltillor next week.

“That’s a very important thing, because to me they are the group that started the change in our program and our culture. When they were in seventh grade the change started to happen with them. The winning started to get back with them,” Lacey said. “They are, to me, one of the top ever to put on green, just based on the impact they have had on this school and this program athletically and academically. Having them be able to leave here with good footing would be the icing on the cake. I think they want that, too.”

All games start at 7 p.m.
MHSAA Playoffs
Vicksburg at Grenada (Radio: 107.7 FM)
Saltillo at Warren Central (Radio: 105.5 FM)
MAIS Playoffs
Porter’s Chapel at DeSoto School (Radio: 104.5 FM)
Briarfield at Sharkey-Issaquena Academy

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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