|Vidalia looks to return to winning ways|
After three straight losing seasons, including going 4-6 last year and just missing out on the playoffs, Vidalia High head football coach Dee Faircloth is optimistic his 2008 team can turn the tide.
"This is a hard-working bunch," said Faircloth, who ranks sixth among active Louisiana high school coaches in wins with an overall record of 240-175-6 in his 40th year. "I'm enjoying being out there with them."
Vidalia fell to Bolton 27-26 in overtime in its final game in Alexandria last year to just miss the playoffs. The Vikings lost to Ouachita Christian 15-12 in the second week on a 20-yard touchdown pass with 42 seconds remaining.
"We came out on the short end of several games in the final minutes, particularly the OCS game," Faircloth said. "This team this year is one of the best-conditioned teams I've had in a long time. We lost most of our games in the fourth quarter last year and I've always prided Vidalia teams as the fourth quarter being ours. One year we scored four touchdowns in the final quarter against Jena to pull out the win. This team will be in better shape in the fourth quarter."
Sophomore Caleb Vines (5-11, 165) will start at quarterback, with junior Mason Ozburn (5-9, 165) and senior Kevin Johnson (5-11, 200) serving as back-ups.
"Caleb is a good athlete and Mason and Kevin do good jobs," Faircloth said.
Faircloth has a wealth of talent at tailback led by senior Lemack Bates (5-6, 150), Johnson, sophomore Dee Fleming (5-6, 155), senior Michael Thompson (5-6, 155), junior Robert Jenkins (5-8, 155) and sophomore Jamon Duson (5-7, 145).
At fullback will be junior Joe Williams (5-7, 190) and junior Van Thompson (5-9, 205).
Sophomore Tri McCoy (5-9, 155), junior Quan Riley (5-9, 180), freshman Jamale Davis (5-7, 140) and senior Kwan Reynolds (5-6, 155) are the wingbacks.
Wide receivers are junior Gary Stewart (6-3, `75), senior Marvin Payne (5-11, 175), junior Quartrell Thomas (5-9, 155), senior Cassius Clay (5-9, 150) and junior Ben Dampier (5-9, 155).
Tight ends are senior Rolandin Webster (5-10, 195) and sophomore Reggie Reynolds (5-11, 145).
Junior Chris Thomas (5-10, 185), sophomore Alvin Bell (5-10, 195) and sophomore Logan Moon (5-9, 145) will also see action.
The offensive line consists of senior Jake Martin (5-10, 195), junior John Brixey (6-0, 210), junior Ben Parnham (6-2, 275), sophomore D.J. Polk (5-11, 235) and junior Chase Smith (5-10, 195).
Others seeing action will be junior William Butler (5-8, 195), sophomore Dejuan Fleming (5-10, 220), junior Hodges Crumb (5-10, 180), sophomore Caleb Holland (5-4, 205), freshman Stephen Crain, (6-0, 210), freshman Teddy Taylor (6-1, 255), freshman Chris Johnson (6-0, 275) and junior Jason Grantham (6-1, 275).
"We have a lot of kids who have not played on the line before," Faircloth said. "We are lacking depth there."
At defensive end will be Riley, Payne, Crumb and Reynolds.
Brixey, Polk, Dejuan Fleming, Parnham, Holland, Smith and Taylor will be at defensive tackle.
Linebackers are Van Thompson, Williams, Ozburn and Suson.
Cornerbacks are Fleming, Stewart, Reynolds, Bates and Thomas. Also, sophomore Darrell Wilson (5-11, 140), Jenkins, Reynolds and Thomas.
Kevin Johnson will handle the kicking duties.
Faircloth said Marksville will be the favorite to repeat, although they lost a number of seniors.
"I think the district is up for grabs," he said. "If we play up to our potential, we can compete for it."