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Vidalia will face strong Avoyelles tandem

VIDALIA — Vidalia High School will have a dynamic duo to contend with when it travels to Avoyelles High School Friday.

The Mustangs’ two wingbacks, Johntrell White and Dravon Batiste, are helping Avoyelles’ double wing offense gain plenty of yards on the ground, Vidalia head coach Gary Parnham Jr. said.

“They have a great offense,” Parnham said. “You can’t stop them, you can only slow them down.”

The Viking defense, however, has shown a lot of improvement this fall. Vidalia has yielded 22 points per game so far this season, down from the 44 points per game it yielded last year. The change has started with attitude, according to senior linebacker Dantrell Saul.

“We’re playing with more heart,” Saul said of the Viking defense. “We’re not just giving up after the first quarter or the first half.”

Compared to last year, Vidalia (1-6, 0-2) has done a 180-degree turn.

“Last year was crazy,” Saul said. “We would give up in the second half. I don’t know if it’s because we weren’t in shape or just used to losing, but this year, each half starts out 0-0. We’re coming back harder.”

And they’ll have to this Friday as well if the Vikings hope to slow down White and Batiste.

“You have to come at them and give it all you have,” Saul said. “You can’t be scared. You just have to come with it. If you can’t stop them, at least hold on until (your teammates) all get there (to help).”

Parnham was complimentary of his defense, saying though they’ve bent at times, they’ve been solid overall. But everything that’s happened up to this point can’t really compare to what they’ll see from Avoyelles Friday.

“We have a big challenge ahead of us,” Parnham said. “I’m not saying we can’t stop them, but we will have to play that offense tough.”

Offensively, Parnham said his team would have to maintain possession for as long as possible.

“The key for us is to control the ball,” Parnham said. “We have to go on long drives and keep their offense off the field. If we can do that, we have a chance to be successful.”

Parnham also noted that Avoyelles head coach Andy Boone is a bit of a gambler, but so far it’s paid off.

“They haven’t punted the ball for four years I don’t think,” Parnham said. “Fourth and 30, they’re going to go for it. But he’s been successful, especially the last two years. I think he’s only lost two games (in that timeframe).”

The Mustangs (6-1, 1-1) also like to onside kick the ball every time they kick off because of poor ability to kick it deep and a tendency to give up a lot on the return, Parnham said.

“They looked at it and decided they weren’t losing but 10 yards, and I guess they figured it was worth it if they had a chance to get the ball back,” Parnham said.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Friday at Avoyelles.