Patience is key for young Vidalia team

Published 12:04am Sunday, October 23, 2011

Vidalia High School’s football program certainly has seen better days.

In the final two home games of the Vikings’ season, Vidalia lost both games in blowout fashion, first to Marksville High School 68-7 Oct. 14 and to Avoyelles High School 56-20 this past Friday.

The Vikings currently sit at 0-8 on the season, and after finishing 2-8 last season, fans are understandably frustrated. Much criticism has been directed at second-year head coach Gary Parnham Jr., who took over the program after long-time coach Dee Faircloth announced his retirement following the 2009 season.

Some have said Parnham isn’t fit to be head coach, others have said there simply isn’t any talent on the squad. I disagree with both assessments.

Certainly, coaches are fair game for criticism, and Parnham is no exception to that, which I’m sure he would tell you. I also think there’s plenty of size and speed on the team as it’s currently constructed to be able to compete. I believe quarterback Michael Whitley, in particular, has pretty good upside as a high school quarterback. With all that said, the question remains, why aren’t the Vikings competing?

It’s simple: There simply isn’t enough experience on the roster. And I’m not talking about varsity football experience — I’m talking football experience, period.

According to assistant coach Damus Smith, 28 of the team’s 38 total players are playing football for either their first or second year. When you look at the Vikings’ starting offensive and defensive players, the numbers are even more staggering. Of the team’s 22 starters, 16 of them are playing football for their first or second year.

Smith didn’t offer this as an excuse. I simply called him up and asked him to go down his roster and count how many players total and how many starters were playing football for their first or second year. He obliged.

Last week when I spoke to Parnham to preview his team’s matchup with Avoyelles, I offered to let him discuss this aspect of his squad. He insisted I keep the questions related to the game with Avoyelles.

I know things are frustrating for Viking fans right now, especially those who are used to the team winning consistently like it did in Faircloth’s heyday. But fans are going to have to show the players and coaches some patience.

Locally, much of the game’s fundamentals are taught at a young age through various youth football leagues. In other words, the fundamentals these first- and second-year football players are learning now they would normally be learning at a much younger age.

Let me stress that again: These first- and second-year high school players are learning fundamentals that are usually learned at the elementary-level age. Against much more experienced teams, this puts the Vikings at a major competitive disadvantage.

Patience must be shown by the Vidalia faithful, and it also must be shown by the players and coaches, all the way up to Parnham. We’re about to find out if the players and coaches have enough patience to stick it out until better days are here, but if they do, they’ll deserve to reap the rewards.

And there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. The Vidalia Junior High School football team, led by approximately 22 eighth graders, recently went undefeated and captured a Tri-Parish League Championship. Those 22 or so eighth graders will be freshmen at Vidalia next fall.

Here’s hoping they, along with the players the Vikings will be returning next season, will transition the team from frustration to turnaround.

MICHAEL KEREKES is the sports editor for The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or at michael.kerekes@natchezdemocrat.com.

  • Anonymous

    28 of the team’s 38 total players are playing football for either their first or second year…….. So only 10 players have moved up from the jr high in the past 2 years? 

    That is a load of BS, Mr Kerekes. The majority of the Viking fans know that your article is wrong. Parnham and his ass. coaches can tell you what they want you to print to keep the heat off their necks. Any one who has watched a Vidalia Viking football game knows exactly what and who the problem is.   

  • Anonymous

    who is this johndeerboy, since you know what the problem is then will you please let me know because i am one of the ass. coaches and i have been working my tail off trying to figure out the problem and i cant find one that is so obvious instead of hiding behind your keyboard typing nothing but negative stuff about vidalia, im personally sick of you ripping on my coaches because everyone one of them work everyday on how to make our team better.  if you big enough to about people everytime an article is posted about vidalia then put your name beside your thoughts.  you are whats wrong with people these days, they gotta blame someone for everything and can never be a man and stand by what they beleive in or say.  your were right about one thing you said though, we didnt only have 10 players come up from the junior high and play football, we had 9.  i got an idea, how about we have you come out and coach vidalia’s football team for a week, lets see how much you know about football and maybe we can see who the mystery man is behind the keyboard. call me if you are interested. brett hinson

  • Anonymous

    hey johndeereboy i didnt see you at practice today, the whole team was waiting to learn all the knowledge and insite that you have about this game we call football. im hoping we will be graced with your presence tomorrow because all 6 people that like your comments know that you are the one person that can take us to the top.  we start at 330 everyday in case you were wondering.

    BRETT HINSON

  • Anonymous

    I see the acorn doesnt fall far from the tree.
     
    Im so sorry you were disappointed with my no-show. I have been traveling for the past 2 days going overseas. You see son, I don’t live with my mom, I have a job. When you grow up and start paying taxes, then you can complain about things. If you want to make coaching your career, here is a little advice, lose the temper and learn how to handle criticism. Moma cant take care of you forever.
     
    If you want to know what i see, here it is. I see a head coach walking around with his hat turned around backwards, he has 4-5 wanna-be coaches doing the same. Be a little more professional. I see a coach that is running a spread offense, that frankly, isn’t suited for his players.  I saw a coach that was overlooked for that job, take 2 differents teams and beat the socks off vidalia. Came in mid-summer at one and late spring at other. Put together 2 teams in a short amount of time and out coached Vidalia. Now that says my tax dollars are not getting the best. A 1-19 record is not getting it done. Even if faircloths last few years they were never this bad. His style might have been outdated, but it did work.

  • Anonymous

    you apparently dont know me at all because this not me losing my temper at all, im stating facts that i see. it sounds like someone got thier own feelings hurt and has lost thier temper on the internet,  i see a guy that thinks he is a big shot because he works overseas and has nothing better to do than down grade a bunch of coaches that he knows nothing about on the internet. second of all i dont live my mom and i dont need my mom to back me up, i have stood behind everything i have said on this paper, third of all if you like that other coach so much then go follow him everywhere because he is a good coach but he is not vidalia’s coach, he is jena’s coach.  third of all none of the coaches wear thier hats backwards at practice or the games and even if they did what would that matter, how is a backwards hat stopping us from winning games, i mean seriously, backwards hats? 

    think about what you say before you type, i can admit that i am young and probably shouldnt be having this conversational with you but what is your excuse?  you say your a grown man, then why are you on the internet constantly bashing people behind a keyboard?  sounds like the real grown up thing to do?  by the way thanks for those tax dollars, keep em coming.

    brett hinson

  • Anonymous

    you apparently dont know me at all because this is not me losing my temper at all, im simply stating facts that i see. it sounds like someone got thier own feelings hurt and has lost thier temper on the internet by bashing coaches,  i see a guy that thinks he is a big shot because he works overseas and has nothing better to do than down grade a bunch of coaches that he knows nothing about on the internet. second of all i dont live my mom and i dont need my mom to back me up, i have a job, house, and a wife. (another one of your thoughtless facts), i have stood behind everything i have said on this paper, third of all if you like that other coach so much then you can go follow him everywhere he goes because he is a good coach but he is not vidalia’s coach, he is jena’s coach.  third of all none of the coaches wear thier hats backwards at practice or the games and even if they did what would that matter, how is a backwards hat stopping us from winning games, i mean seriously, backwards hats? you are talking about backwards hats? backwards hats, not how to win, backwards hats. backwards hats?

    think about what you say before you type, i can admit that i am young and probably shouldnt be having this conversational with you but what is your excuse?  you say your a grown man, then why are you on the internet constantly bashing people behind a keyboard?  sounds like the real grown up thing to do? 

    i have said what i had to say and i wont say anything else so i hope you keep making it out to the games and keep that support up for us.

    thanks, brett hinsonshow more