Ferriday plays host to Vidalia in latest chapter of Concordia Parish rivalry

Published 3:37 pm Thursday, September 28, 2023

FERRIDAY — The Ferriday High School Trojans already have a one-up on their Concordia Parish and LHSAA District 2-2A rival Vidalia High School Vikings heading into this week’s showdown at Melz Field on the Ferriday High campus.

That’s because Ferriday is on a two-game winning streak, including last week’s 46-6 blowout win on the road over then-undefeated Madison Parish High School to go to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in district play.

Trojans head coach Cleothis Cummings III said his players settled down and was disciplined as well as played and executed to the best of their abilities both offensively and defensively in last week’s emphatic victory.

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Meanwhile, Vidalia dropped its first game of the season after an 3-0 start after a lackluster 55-18 loss at Class 3A Buckeye High School in which first-year head coach Joshua West said everything that could go wrong did go wrong — especially in the first half.

“We had nine kids go down with injuries in the first half. Three of them were on our first drive. Three of them will be out this week.,” West said. “A lot of self-inflicted penalties. A couple of bad calls. A 60-yard run that was called back for holding. We watched the film and that was not holding. They were more physical than us. They ran the ball well and controlled the clock.”

West added that when Buckeye took their shots downfield, the Panthers took advantage of it. And while West added that the Panthers’ head coach said to him that a couple of those were “lucky,” West said they were not. He noted that when the Vikings made big plays, they were brought back by penalties.

“We’ve got to get stronger. Some guys had their eyes in the backfield and they took advantage of them.”

Meanwhile, Cummings said the Trojans will be going through their regular routine in practice this week and making adjustments to what the Vikings run.

“Adjusting our alignments in preparation for what they do,” Cummings said.

And while West said that his players were not caught thinking ahead to Ferriday, he added that some of them took Buckeye lightly and even noted that he felt like they didn’t think the Panthers were capable of throwing the deep ball and were caught napping and let the receivers get behind them.

Vidalia’s defense cannot let that happen this Friday night against a Ferriday offense that has a lot of speed and athleticism and that, alone, can be a big challenge. As Madison Parish found out the hard way last Friday night.

“We’re working on containing their speed. Cleaning up offensive penalties. Controlling the line of scrimmage. What we’re doing this week is more about us,” West said. “Staying in front of the sticks. Last week, we were behind the sticks too much. Defensively, keep everything in front of us and getting 11 players to the ball.”

As for what concerns him most about Vidalia on each side of the ball, Cummings said, “They have some pretty decent athletes. You have to take them into account. Make sure we focus on the details instead of what they have.”

As for what concerns him the most about the Trojans on each side of the ball,” West said, “Their speed and athleticism. They play with pride. Defensively, they run to the ball. Special teams, they just show that they can be potent. Giving them opportunities to return the ball may be dangerous.”

As for who for Vidalia will have to step up for the Vikings to come away victorious Friday night, West said, “We’re going to lean our quarterback, (Elmari) ‘Juice’ Lewis and the offensive line. Try to control the game. Bank on the defense as a whole instead of one player. We want to match their intensity and let the chips fall where they may.”

Cummings said quarterback Dorian Taylor will have to step up by managing the offense. He noted that their wide receivers will need to have a big game like they had last week, but he also wants the running game to be more involved in the offense. He said that the Trojans’ defense has “got to hunt the ball.”

Even though this is West’s first year as Vidalia head coach, he said he does understand just how big this game is. However, he added that he doesn’t put too much stock into the “rivalry” aspect.

“I’m from here. I grew up and watched this rivalry. However, I believe it’s just another game. I want to make sure the kids are mentally ready and focused on the environment,” West said. I want to win for the community. Someone told me we haven’t won this game since 2017. So, we want to win for them.”

As for his perspective on the Vidalia-Ferriday rivalry, Cummings said, “For one, as a former player at Ferriday, the rivalry runs deep. It’s not just the players. It’s the communities. 

“Whether Vidalia has a great team or Ferriday has a great team, the records really don’t matter. Somebody’s got to win and somebody’s got to lose. That’s what we’ve got the kids focused on. A rivalry game plus district, it just amplifies it more.”