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Vidalia Razorbacks taking small steps

Razorbacks’ Chandler Harrison, 10, tackles teammate Marcus Taylor, 9, as the team runs through a play Tuesday evening during practice at Vidalia Lower Elementary School. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

VIDALIA — Allan Morrow didn’t sugarcoat last weekend’s tournament games for the Vidalia Razorbacks travel youth football team.

The Razorbacks traveled to Shreveport, La., this past weekend for their first tournament since forming the team in late September. With little practice to go on, the Razorbacks lost their opening games in the tournament,

“We had a rough patch, but with it being our first year, we just want them to get experience,” Morrow said. “From game one to game three, we improved 100 percent.”

And it’s small steps the Razorback coaches are shooting for. With most of the children competing in Miss-Lou Youth Football, the coaches have only had a few weeks to work with them up to this point.

“We have to teach fundamentals,” Morrow stressed. “With all the injuries at the upper levels, we have to teach the correct way to tackle.”

Instilling the right attitude in the players is also a big key for the Razorback coaches, Morrow said.

“Some of these kids, we had to completely change their attitudes,” Morrow said. “Coming from other (youth) coaches, some of them were talking trash and getting in other people’s faces. If you make the play, you shouldn’t have to holler after that.”

Morrow helped coach Adams County Christian School in the 2011 season under then-head coach Hunter McKeivier, and he said he was able to pick up a few things about the game. Since the area has several travel baseball teams but few travel football teams, Morrow said he wanted to give young football players a chance to keep playing after youth season was over.

“We have a bunch of kids that are football only, and (travel football) is not as prevalent over here,” Morrow said.

“This allows the kids to get more specialized coaching, instead of league teams where they sometimes only have two coaches. You also get to see a lot of different ways to do things, and it gets them out of their comfort zone and shows them how to compete against other towns.”

Trey Johnson, 11, plays kicker, quarterback, running back and outside linebacker for the Razorbacks. Being an all-purpose athlete, Johnson said he doesn’t have a favorite position.

“All of them are my favorite, because they’re fun to play,” Johnson said. “If I had to pick one, maybe quarterback.”

Johnson said he enjoys quarterback because it lets him do a lot of stuff like throw, run and tell people what to do. He said he particularly enjoys instructing his teammates, but he insisted that he doesn’t want to be a coach one day.

“I don’t want to teach them how to play, I want to be playing,” Johnson said.

Brad Dean, 11, plays linebacker and running back, but he said he strongly prefers the defensive side of the ball.

“I like contact, and I get to express myself by hitting other people,” Dean said. “I’m not angry, and I don’t like to hurt people, I just have a lot of energy.”

That attitude carries over to the rest of his teammates, who all expressed their excitement when the coaches told them they would be doing hitting drills Tuesday evening at practice.

“We’re the type of team that likes to hit,” Dean said.

Even though his players say they want to play physical, Morrow said good sportsmanship always comes first.

“When you have good sportsmanship, it falls over in other aspects of how they are as people,” Morrow said. “You tend to be a better person in the long run.”

The Razorbacks will play in another tournament in Monroe, La., this weekend. Their last tournament is scheduled for Dec. 9 and 10.