Gators like what they see in spring football game

Published 11:12 pm Friday, May 10, 2024

Vicksburg High did not score, nor did it win, in its spring football game against Jefferson County. The Gators were OK with that, though. They saw what they needed to see before the games start counting in a few months.

Vicksburg’s defense only allowed 59 total yards, and its running game piled up 110 yards during the two-quarter scrimmage that ended in a scoreless tie Friday at Memorial Stadium.

“It was good to me. It was what I expected,” Vicksburg head coach Christopher Lacey said. “We’re working some new stuff in different spots, and some new people and things of that nature, so that in itself was something to watch and a challenge. The way the kids played got me excited.”

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The Gators are breaking in a host of new players at the skill positions, and it showed. Quarterback Jamikal Maxey threw two interceptions while completing 4 of 8 passes for 24 yards.

Two old hands, rising senior running backs Cedrick Blackmore and Decorey Knight Jr., showed plenty of potential for carrying the offense if needed. Knight carried the ball 13 times for 63 yards, while Blackmore finished with eight carries for 47 yards.

“We’ve got a two-headed monster now. We’ve got one that’ll give you power and one that’ll give you speed,” Lacey said. “Both of them complement each other very well and that’s what we need. We want to run the ball. Having them do that tonight in two quarters showed me that we’re going to be all right.”

Blackmore and Knight are among the few key, experienced skill players returning on offense after graduation decimated those positions. Maxey is replacing four-year starter Ronnie Alexander at quarterback, while Jakobe Smith is trying to step up to fill the shoes of last year’s leading receiver Tyler Henderson.

Smith caught three passes for 21 yards.

Both of Maxey’s interceptions came in Jefferson County territory to thwart potential scoring drives. Lacey said it was an acceptable part of the learning curve for a rising junior quarterback who finished last season third on the depth chart and took his first varsity snaps Friday night.

“We started moving the ball at the end, minus the two interceptions which I expect from a first-year varsity quarterback who was a fourth-stringer first,” Lacey said. “I expect him to come along. He was in good spirits. He was coming to the sideline like, ‘Coach, what did I do wrong?’ and stuff like that. He didn’t look bad at all. I’m excited for how he played.”

Defensively, the Gators did not allow Jefferson County inside the 25-yard line in four series. The Tigers gained 26 yards on their first offensive snap, and then had one more first down the rest of the game.

Dennis Battle had a sack and a pass breakup in the first quarter to lead the effort. In the junior varsity portion of the game, Josh Woods intercepted one pass and had another pick negated by a penalty.

The Gators ran out of time on their best chance to reach the end zone. They got to the 6-yard line in the final minute of the second quarter, but a false start penalty with one second left prevented a final snap. Each team was only given one timeout, which Lacey had already called, so the Gators could not stop the clock and the varsity portion of the game ended there.

“We only had one timeout apiece and we had clock things going, there was no kicking game or special teams. All the stuff in a football game that leads you to scoring points, we didn’t really have tonight,” Lacey said. “It was more people coming to see good football and us getting to see what our team is going to look like in August.”

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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