Vicksburg Gators invade King Field

Published 5:00 am Thursday, September 4, 2003

Vicksburg, featuring a high-powered passing game and a strongdefense, invades King Field Friday night to meet the BrookhavenPanthers. Kickoff is 7:30.

The Gators, ranked No. 4 in The Associated Press Preseason PrepPoll, lost 33-18 to No. 3 Southaven last Friday in the Red CarpetCity Classic. Vicksburg is coached by Alonzo Stevens.

There are 29 seniors on the Vicksburg squad, among themAll-American linebacker Rory Johnson (6-3, 215). Johnson wearsjersey No. 44 and is being recruited by Oklahoma, Southern Cal andAuburn, among others. Big and fast, quick and strong, Johnson ran a4.38 in the Nike summer football camp at Auburn. He has a 38-inchvertical leap.

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Senior James Jackson is in his first year as Vicksburg’sstarting quarterback. He has a cannon for an arm. In baseball, hethrows 90-mile per hour fastballs.

Vicksburg boasts several fast receivers in Ben Shelton, MichaelRainey and Maurice Taylor. Shelton (6-0, 185) has soft hands andblazing speed. He’s a major college prospect.

Vicksburg uses the Gator Package, featuring four receivers.

The Gators have impressed BHS head coach Tucker Peavey on gamefilm and in scouting reports, especially quarterback James Jackson(5-11, 175).

“Vicksburg has a real good mixture of size and speed,” saidPeavey. “He (Jackson) reminds you a lot of South Pike’squarterback. He’s a left-hander.”

Peavey said Jackson has a stable of swift receivers to choosefrom. “They do a good job spreading the field with their offenseand they give their athletes space to work. We have to be ready foreverything.”

Brookhaven survived an upset bid by Hazlehurst, prevailing 12-8over the Indians in the season opener at Hazlehurst. The Panthersgot a 76-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jimmy Johns to widereceiver John Wayne Havard and a fumble recovery by defensive endPhillip Tobias.

Tobias accounted for 8 tackles, 3 quarterback sacks and a passdeflection as the Panthers limited Hazlehurst to 76 yards totaloffense. The Indians were intercepted twice by free safety JarvisWilson and one by cornerback T.J. Qualls. They also lost 2fumbles.

Wilson also had 4 tackles and a fumble recovery. He wasrecognized as The DAILY LEADER’s Defensive Player of the Week.

“I’m worried more about Brookhaven than I am about Vicksburg,”said Peavey. He said the Panthers have concentrated on correctingmistakes they made on offense in their season opener. They managedjust 206 yards total offense, gaining 115 through the air as Johnscompleted 7 of 11 passes.

“We only had one dropped ball,” said Peavey. “We need to hold upthe protection better and get our passing game going. It’s just amatter of fixing it.”

Junior running back Darius Perkins directed Brookhaven’s rushingattack with 17 carries for 83 yards. Dominque Smith rushed 8 timesfor 14 yards.

Panther Paws: Last year at Vicksburg, theGators beat Brookhaven 33-14 as tailback Phelan Gray rushed for 142yards and a touchdown while quarterback Justin Henry passed for 3touchdowns. Brookhaven got touchdowns from wide receiver BudChatman and running back Josh Anderson.