|Vidalia seeking improvement|
After going winless in 2011, Vidalia High head football coach Gary Paul Parnham knew changes would have to made not only on the football field but off the field.
"We've got to change the mindset," Parnham said. "They have to be committed to getting better and improving all the time. We're going to be a better football team. We've had better practices and been more physical. And I think that comes with heart."
On the field, Parnham is going with a flex offense, which he said is almost like a T formation spread out.
"We'll have three running backs in the backfield most of the time," he said. "That will help with blocking running and passing the ball."
Vidalia scored three touchdowns against LaSalle's varsity in a scrimmage August 16 at Vidalia.
Senior Dantrel Saul and junior Michael Whitley scored on 70-yard runs, while Whitley completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to junior Stewart Mallory.
"I saw some good things, especially on defense," Parnham said.
Vidalia hosts its annual jamboree Saturday at 6 p.m.
Vidalia will face Block at 6 p.m. for one quarter, followed by Block against Ferriday for one quarter and Vidalia against Ferriday for one quarter in the finale.
Whitley (5-9, 168), a junior, returns at quarterback.
"This is Michael's third year playing quarterback and second year starting, so we've got a lot of experience there," Parnham said.
Parnham is holding running back by committee as sophomore Torrey Smith (5-7, 150), junior Charles Albert (5-6, 150), senior Trashone Mayes (5-5, 119), sophomore Johnny Anderson (5-9, 151), Saul (5-6, 200), freshman Cole Cangemi (5-7, 151), Sean Gatlin and freshman Jonterrris Townsend (5-7, 156) will see plenty of action.
"The hottest running back is getting the football," Parnham said. "And we may have a different set of backs every series."
The offensive line has four starters returning, including junior Andy Smith (5-1, 190), senior Chris Temple (6-1, 265) and junior JoJo Vinson (5-9, 240) and sophomore Daniel Perrault (5-6, 203). Senior Landry McGivaren (6-2, 217) and freshman Curtis McNulty (5-10, 219) will also see playing time.
Senior Garrett Rhemes (6-0, 165) will be at tight end.
Wide receivers are senior Zaylon Parker (5-5, 135) and Mallory (5-5, 143).
Defensively, Dee Whitley will be at nose guard, while Temple and Vinson will be on the line. Junior Dillon Gautreau and sophomore Charles Johnson will also be on the line.
Linebackers are Saul, Gatlin, Cangemi, Mallory and Johnson.
"We should be faster at the linbacker position.
Defensive backs are Parker, junior Kyle Coley, Smith, Whitley and Anderson.
Coley tore a muscle in the back of his knee and suffered a fracture in the knee in a scrimmage against LaSalle Thursday and will be out four-to-six weeks.
"Losing Kyle definitely hurts us because we're thin there to start with," Parnham said. "And he was doing a good job for us."
Parnham said the Vikings are changing their defense.
"Defensively we're going more to a 5-2, 5-3 set," Parnham said, also taking a page from former Viking coach Dee Faircloth. "We're going to be a quicker team because we can't match most people's power. Coach Faircloth always talked about pinning our ears back and going after somebody. He told me if the quarterback is on his back, it's hard for him to throw the football."
Parnham said District 3-3A will be competitive once again.
"It's as tough as ever," he said..
But his team may have something to say about who wins the district.
"We've had some kids step up and a few surprises," Parnham said. "We're expecting to be much better."