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Hard work finally pays off as Vidalia gets first win since 2010

Vidalia High School’s Brandon McClure, center, celebrates his team’s second safety in the fourth quarter with his teammates during Friday’s game against Baker High School. Vidalia defeated Baker, 10-7. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

VIDALIA — To say that Vidalia High School’s win Friday night at homecoming was huge is an understatement, considering the drought that preceded it.

Not since Nov. 5, 2010 — a 40-28 win against Jena High School — were the Vikings able to call themselves winners. But thanks to two safeties late in the fourth quarter against Baker High School Friday, Vidalia pulled away with a 10-7 victory.

Torrey Smith, who tallied the first safety and had an assist on the second safety, said it was tough mentally to finally get over that mental hump and win a game.

“We came together, we worked hard, and it took a great deal of time, but we did it,” Smith said.

But Smith insisted despite the string of losses that this year’s squad always remained positive.

“We never got down ourselves,” Smith said. “We always fought hard. We kept our high spirits.”

Head coach Gary Parnham Jr. was understandably emotional following the win, but he said it was hard to tell just how big the win was in the grand scheme of things.

“It’s just one game out of what, 10 games?” Parnham said. “But it could be something that could put us over the top. You never know where we’re going to go from here. I know one thing, I have a group that works their rear ends off. If they continue with that work ethic, we’re going to turn this thing around.”

Running back Stewart Mallory said coming into the game that football was all about having a short memory. It was advice he had to apply personally, as a fumble by him in the second quarter helped set up Baker’s only touchdown. But Mallory said he couldn’t let himself get down after the play.

“You just have to forget all that and know the game is still going on,” Mallory said. “You have a whole four quarters of football, and you just have to go out there and run the ball hard and keep fighting.”

Mallory also said having that first win was a weight off of everyone’s shoulders.

“It feels really good, because you finally realize that hard work paid off, and once you get the win, it gets your confidence up and makes you feel like you can beat anyone out there,” Mallory said.

Homecoming queen Laura Perilloux knows all too well the difficulty of getting over a string of losses. The Vidalia senior is a pitcher for the Lady Vikings softball team, which has had some tough seasons recently. Perilloux said she understands how difficult it is to change the mindset of a team used to losing.

“It gets to where you’re expecting to lose, so when the other team gets ahead, you’re not even trying to get back on top, because you’re just expecting to come out on the bottom,” Perilloux said.

“You have to finally realize that you are as good as the other teams whenever you’re playing close games, and then you just have to push through it and hold them and be mentally strong enough to not give up.”

Former Vidalia head coach Dee Faircloth said he enjoyed watching the Viking players celebrate on the football field he coached many games at.

“It felt really good, because they deserved it,” Faircloth said. “They’ve worked really hard, and there ain’t nothing like winning a ball game.”