25 Teams in 25 Days: Vancleave Bulldogs

Just two weeks into the regular season only six high school football teams from the Gulf Coast enter week three with a record of 2-0.

Now, the 21st school on News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days is the only one of those six hailing from the 4A ranks. No, not Poplarville, not East Central, it’s the Vancleave Bulldogs who could be off to their best start in eight years by this same time tomorrow.

Head Coach Lavon Capers said, “The most exciting part about it is we’ve got the chance to be 3-0 this week. I mean we’re just taking them one game at a time, I know that’s cliche, but that’s what you have to do. You can’t look too far ahead.”

No one at Vancleave is overlooking Greene County as a week three opponent, but the Bulldogs are taking time to appreciate their first 2-0 start since 2015, following wins over Forrest County ASH and West Harrison. Defensive end/ fullback Kelsei Green said, “These past few years we haven’t been very successful, so we really have that urge to win and we have that desire and so now that we have the ability to, we’ve hit the ground running.”

Positive momentum can be a powerful thing for a program that’s also searching for its first trip back to the post-season since 2015 with a renewed sense of urgency. “We play with a different kind of speed than we did last year. We’re really fast and aggressive, and I think that’s really helped us succeed.”

Running back C.J. Johnson said, “People have been doubting us, but like we told ourselves in our own little circle here at the camp and everything we’re telling people we’re going to come back, we’re going to be better and stronger like we did, we came out, 2-0 and having everybody behind us, like he said, walk in the school saying good job, ya’ll keep it up and it’s a great feeling having everybody behind you knowing that you’re going to do good.”

Not all non-district wins are created equal, but hey, 2-0 is 2-0 and that’s evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. “We’ve proved it to the community but not to the rest of the state that we’re here to play football and that people just doubt us and say well, Vancleave, they’re not that great. But we’re here to show everybody that we are.”

In 2018, it could all come full circle for Lavon Capers in his 21st season with Vancleave football and his last with the 16 seniors he started this ride with in his first year as head coach in 2015. “His brother, when they grew up and they went to the third round, it left a legacy for us to try to fulfill which is extremely hard, but we know that we can do it. And leaving another legacy like that would just be amazing.”

“It would just be amazing to have our names, the ones that keep getting repeated throughout all the years because we keep on talking about those guys that came through here all those years ago, the ones that went all the way, so that’s what we want to do.”

“This group of seniors is the first group that came in as freshman whenever I took over as head coach and it’s a special group to me. It’s the first group I’ve gotten to see through for four years, so it would be very special to get them back into the playoffs and set a foundation for our program in the future.”

Vancleave kicks it off against Greene County at 7 p.m. tomorrow for its first road game of the season.

Categories: Local Sports, Sports

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