Oak Grove pummels Vidalia 56-12; Vikings still have playoff hopes in Non-Select Division III

Published 12:56 pm Friday, November 3, 2023

OAK GROVE, La. — The Vidalia High School Vikings knew they needed to upset the Oak Grove High School Tigers last Thursday night and have some help if they had any chances of earning a berth in the LHSAA Non-Select Division III Playoffs.

Instead, Oak Grove proved why it is not only the District 2-2A champion, but also one of the top teams in all of Class 2A as the Tigers used two big quarters to dispose of the Vidalia Vikings 56-14 in the regular-season finale for both teams.

The Tigers, which already took care of their two biggest threats to the district title in Mangham High (28-12 on Friday, Sept. 29) and Ferriday High School (42-12 on Thursday, Oct. 12) — both of them on the road, led the Vikings 20-8 at the end of the first quarter.

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But, as Vikings head coach Joshua West said last Friday morning, they did have some sliver of optimism during the first quarter.

“They scored first and we answered them. We scored on a 60-yard deep-ball touchdown pass from (Elmari) ‘Juice’ Lewis to Louis Jordan and we went up 8-6. We came out and started with some optimism,” West said. “But Oak Grove proceeded to show why they have such a good program.”

Then Oak Grove (8-2, 6-0), which entered this game ranked No. 3 in the Non-Select Division II power ratings, went on a scoring outburst in the second quarter as it put up 30 points while holding Vidalia, No. 30 in the Non-Select Division III power ratings scoreless for a commanding 50-8 halftime lead.

“They were able to run the ball well inside. We had some mental mistakes that hurt us,” West said. “We were able to finish strong. We capitalized on some things. Michael Randall scored on a 30-yard pass from ‘Juice’.”

Freshman Jayden Gaines, whom West says normally plays defense from his defensive back position, came in late in the game got some playing time at wide receiver. His 50-yard reception from Lewis set up Randall’s touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.

But by that time it was way too little, way too late for the Vikings. The Tigers also scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter. West added that he was glad his young team got to take on one of the top high school football programs in the state.

“It was a great experience for them to see a top-notch program up close and personal. And how they have the continuity and controlled aggression they play with and how they operate,” West said. “We have hopes to get in the playoffs. There are still a few teams ahead of us who play (Friday) night.”

Vidalia finished its regular season with an overall record of 4-6 and a district record of 1-5. West noted that 28 teams get berths in the LHSAA Non-Select Division III Playoffs, which start next week.