Gators start streak of Thursday games on the road against Jim Hill
Posted 8:00 am Wednesday, September 21, 2022
It could be in a real folder hidden in a desk drawer somewhere on the court. It could just be locked away in the coaching staff’s brain, ready to spring into action from muscle memory.
Whatever or wherever, Vicksburg High is ready to once again introduce the Thursday Plan.
The Gators (2-2, 2-0 MHSAA Region 2-5A) have a short week as they prepare to play Jim Hill (0-3-1, 0-2) on Thursday at 7:30 pm in Jackson. It’s the first of three Thursday night games in the final six of the regular season, but the 11th the Gators have played since 2019.
“We’ll do the same things we do on a normal Wednesday, and Thursday will just be game day instead of getting ready and getting the whole team together,” Vicksburg coach Todd McDaniel said. “We won’t practice on Wednesday that long in a short week. On Thursday we usually go for about an hour, but in a short week on Wednesday we’ll go for about an hour and 45 to make sure we hit everything.”
Vicksburg’s streak of Thursday games the past three seasons has been largely a function of playing in a region densely populated by Jackson Public School District teams.
JPS has seven high school teams under its banner, four of which are in Region 2-5A with Vicksburg, but only two football fields to share. It has created a delicate balancing act as both courses normally host games on Thursdays and Fridays.
This week’s game will be at North Jackson Field, located at Medgar Evers Boulevard and Interstate 220.
Vicksburg went through a similar situation in 2020, when its stadium was undergoing renovations and it played three games on Thursday nights at Warren Central and another two on the road.
Vicksburg also played three Thursday games in 2019, two last season, and has three this year. In addition to this week’s contest, the Gators will play at home on Thursdays against Callaway on Oct. 6 and Holmes County Central on Nov. 3.
Callaway’s game was scheduled for a Thursday night due to a conflict with the Vicksburg Warren School District’s fall break.
The Holmes County Central game, which is the finale of the regular season, was placed on Thursday by the MHSAA due to a shortage of officials statewide. All Class 5A and 6A teams will play on Thursday of that week.
McDaniel said he likes to play on Thursday. He believes the Gators’ unorthodox attacking and defensive schemes give them an advantage in a short week, and it allows the coaching staff to go out and scout other opponents on Friday.
“It is nothing new. They (Jim Hill) have been doing it for years, so it’s definitely nothing new for them. They have to do this on Thursdays and Fridays,” McDaniel said. “What really helps us is that on Friday we have the opportunity to go see someone else play and explore.”
Vicksburg is coming into its matchup with Jim Hill fresh off back-to-back losses in their first two Region 2-5A games. The Gators outscored Canton and Forest Hill 95-12.
Jim Hill seems to be another pushover. His last victory was on October 18, 2019, he played Port Gibson in a 12-12 draw earlier this season, and has won a total of six games in the last 10 seasons.
Still, McDaniel said there are a lot of things he wants the Gators to take seriously, even if they’re heavy favorites. He had 18 penalties in last week’s 54-8 win over Forest Hill, and is averaging 11 per game.
The Gators are in a soft part of the schedule. The top four opponents in the region, including Provine next week, have records of .500 or less. However, the October slate is much more difficult, and correcting bad habits is now essential.
“We have to keep working and be a bit stricter with them in practice. It is better to believe that they know it too. They know they won’t get away with Ridgeland, West Point or Lafayette,” McDaniel said. “It’s a different level of focus. Still, as a coach it drives you crazy because regardless of who you play with, you can’t have that.”
THIS WEEK’S AREA GAMES
Thursday, September 22
Vicksburg at Jim Hill, 7:30 p.m. (Radio: 107.7 FM)
Friday, September 23
Games starting at 7 pm
Saint Louis in the Cathedral (Radio: 101.3 FM)
PCA at Wilkinson Christian (Radio: 104.5 FM)
Tallulah Academy at Prairie View
Deer Creek at Briarfield Academy
Centerville Academy at Central Hinds
Madison Parish in Ferriday
Games starting at 7:30 pm
Warren Central in Oak Grove (Radio: 105.5 FM)
Gibson Harbor at Crystal Springs
Clinton in Germantown