By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg varsity football team is playing solid at the start of the season with a 4-1 record through the first five games.
The Bulldogs annihilated Dowagiac 54-0 in their season opener. It was originally supposed to be a home game, but was moved to Niles because field upgrades were not finished yet. In that game, Vicksburg gave up zero passing yards.
The following week they went on the road to Sturgis and a 35-19 victory over the Trojans that was closer than it looked on the scoreboard. The Bulldogs scored on their opening drive on a two-yard gallop from Xavier Wadley. Kyler Dean’s extra point made it 7-0 early. The Trojans responded two possessions later with a score of their own to make it 7-7.
With a little over four minutes left in the first half, quarterback Evan Anderson completed three passes in a row to march his team down the field. His last pass was caught by Bryce Smith, who shook a couple of tacklers to get into the end zone on a 12-yard score. Dean’s extra point made it 14-7 at halftime.
Sturgis got the ball to start the second half and Vicksburg forced a quick three-and-out. On the ensuing drive, Anderson hit Keannen Miller deep for another touchdown to widen the gap to 21-7 with Dean’s extra point. With 4:41 left in the third, Sturgis scored again, but shanked the extra point to make things 21-13.
The Bulldogs came up short on their next two drives and the Trojans scored on their next possession to tighten the game even more. Sturgis went for two only to have RJ Vallier intercept the pass to keep it a two-point game.
On the subsequent Vicksburg possession, the Bulldogs put together a methodical seven-play drive that helped eat some time off the clock. Unfortunately, a high snap recovered by Wadley left Vicksburg facing a third and 19 from about midfield. Anderson dropped back and threw a perfect back shoulder 53-yard bomb to Logan Jones in the end zone to give Vicksburg some breathing room at 28-19 with the extra point with a little over three minutes left to play.
After the game, Head Coach Tom Marchese said taking a shot was the best option in that scenario, even if the ball got intercepted.
“It’s down here and it’s just as good as a punt. We still have still have our defense and they have to go 90 yards. If it was incomplete then we punt it and try to pin them deep,” Marchese said. “It was nice that Logan got behind it and Evan threw a great ball.”
On the next Sturgis drive, Vallier got his second pick of the game and returned it to the Sturgis four-yard line. On the next play Wadley took it in for his second rushing touchdown of the night and iced the game.
“We’ve still got a lot to clean up if you will,” Marchese said. “But our kids battled. You never know how you’re going to react when you face adversity for the first time. Last week we didn’t see any. So, it was nice to see that and get tested, it was good for our kids to bounce back and knock it down and make a play when they had to. That’s a good building block.”
The Bulldogs went on to beat Richland Gull Lake 17-14 the following week before getting their first loss of the season at Edwardsburg 49-0. Their most recent win was a 21-14 victory over Niles in the first home game in their newly renovated stadium.
By Travis Smola