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Winless Vikings playing better, still looking for positive results

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Vidalia High School’s Jonterrius Townsend gets one of his 27 rushing attempts as Ferriday High School’s Henry Jefferson Jr. tries to stop him during Friday’s game at Ferriday. Townsend took over for injured quarterback Michael Whitley and rushed for 165 yards.

vidalia — Last season the Vidalia High School football team started its season off with losses to Block High School, Delhi Charter High School and Ferriday High School.

The Vikings lost those games by a combined score of 132-26.

This season Vidalia started its season with the same three opponents, and although its record is the same, the Vikings are playing much more competitive football.

Last week’s 20-14 defeat at Ferriday might have been the most difficult for the Vikings to swallow, and head coach Gary Parnham said his main job so far this season is picking his team up after heartbreaking defeats.

“We’re sitting here and could easily be 3-0 instead of 0-3,” Parnham said. “It’s disheartening, but we have to fight through and keep focused on improving.”

The Vikings will continue their stretch of familiar opponents this week when they host Bolton High School. Vidalia played Bolton the fourth game of the season last year and lost 28-0. Parnham said he expects the Bears to provide another stiff challenge this season.

“Bolton is real athletic at the skill positions, especially quarterback,” Parnham said. “Our defense has to shape up.”

Parnham said he expects Bolton to throw the ball on most downs, and the Vikings will have to be strong in the secondary and put pressure on the quarterback.

Vidalia will take the field without the services of starting quarterback Michael Whitley again this week. Whitley is out with an injury, and Parnham said he is unsure when the junior signal caller will return.

Freshman Jonterrius Townsend took a majority of the snaps at quarterback against Ferriday and ran the ball 27 times for 165 yards.

“There will be a lot of growing pains, but he’s quick to pick up things and the more experience he gets, the better he’s going to be,” Parnham said.

But Parnham said the biggest challenge is keeping his team, which has not won a game since Nov. 5, 2010, confident and motivated.

“It’s definitely tough,” he said. “I tell them week in and week out to keep doing things right and something good will happen, but then something bad happens. Basically we just have to keep working hard and keep building.”

Vidalia (0-3) will host Bolton (0-3) at 7 p.m. Friday. It is the Vikings’ first home game of the season.

Rayville at Block

JONESVILLE — Nothing went right for the Block High School football team last week at Jena.

It started in the second quarter when head coach Benny Vault had a couple of run ins with the officials and was ejected from the game.

“I questioned a few calls, and for some reason the head official didn’t like being questioned,” Vault said.

Vault said he felt disrespected by some of the things the official said to him and purposely went over the line to draw the first unsportsmanlike conduct flag.

“I expected to get the first flag,” Vault said.

Vault was still frustrated and said a couple of things under his breath that the head linesman overheard. The linesman threw a second flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, which meant Vault had to be ejected.

“I take the blame for that,” Vault said. “I left the team stranded.”

Without Vault on the sidelines, the Bears’ offense struggled to a 37-8 defeat. But Vault said the loss is a minor setback that can be corrected.

“Everything can be fixed from me on down,” he said. “I tell the kids and the community there is no need to panic. We’re going to be fine.”

The Bears will look to get back on track Friday when they host Rayville High School.

Rayville, like Jena, is an LHSAA-3A team that will provide a stiff challenge for the Bears, Vault said.

“They are big and fast,” Vault said.

Block must also get better at running its offense, and that will come with experience, Vault said.

“We are missing a lot of blocking assignments,” he said. “I still don’t think anybody can stop our offense, but we are missing blocks. We’re going to go back to the drawing board and make sure everybody understands our concepts and is capable of blocking and moving the ball.”

Vault said he thinks the challenge of playing bigger opponents like Rayville and Jena prepares his team for district play.

“It teaches us that we have to play a whole game or get blown out,” he said. “The kids know what it takes to complete a whole game, and playing up against tougher opponents means you can’t have a let down.”

Block (2-1) will host Rayville (1-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.