Friday was special for Vidalia

Published 1:47 am Sunday, March 7, 2010

Friday night was a special one for the Vidalia Vikings.

In front of a raucous crowd in a hot, sweaty Vidalia High gym, the Vikings took every punch that Rayville could throw at them and for a moment, and it looked like they were starting to wobble.

Down 79-75 entering the fourth quarter, the Vikings had not found a way to stop Rayville’s fast-break offense, and it looked as if the dream of getting back to the Top 28 Tournament in Lafayette, La., was about to go up in smoke.

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But in the fourth quarter, the Vikings showed everyone why they are the top team in Class 3A, outscoring the Hornets 23-8 and earning a second straight trip to the Cajundome on the University of Louisiana-Lafayette campus.

It was the culmination to one of Vidalia’s goals for the season — get back to the dome.

After losing in the state championship game last year to Richwood, Vidalia returned almost everyone and expectations were high that this year’s team would be the one to bring home the state championship.

The pressure has been on this team all season, not only from the players’ classmates at the high school, but from the whole city of Vidalia.

The Vikings really are Vidalia’s team, with the high school gym being full for many of the games this season and absolutely packed to the rafters for Vidalia’s three playoff games.

Everyone in the city wanted to see the Vikings get back to Lafayette, and most everyone assumed that would happen.

But even with all that pressure on them, the Vikings cruised through the season and the first two games in the playoffs.

After starting the season off a little slowly the team ripped through district play with a perfect record and won its first two playoff games by an average of 52 points.

But when the pressure got turned up even higher by Rayville in the first three quarters of Friday’s quarterfinal game, the Vikings didn’t panic.

They just did what they have done all season — win.

And now Vidalia’s reward is a trip to Lafayette and a semifinal date with No. 5 seed Abbeville, which upset No. 4 seed E.D. White 70-39 in its quarterfinal game Friday.

That game will take place at 8 p.m. Tuesday, and for those who won’t be able to make it to Lafayette, the game can be heard on 104.7 The Gator.

But while the drive will be a long one, the good news is that there probably won’t be near as strict a limit on tickets as there was for Vidalia’s home playoff games, when demand far exceeded the space in the school’s tiny gym.

So get those ticket requests in early, fill up the gas tank in your car and be prepared to leave work a little early Tuesday.

I don’t know if Vidalia High intends to let school out a little early, but if they don’t, there will probably be a rash of students checking out in order to get down to Lafayette by game time.

So good luck to the Vikings as they try to bring the state championship back to the Miss-Lou.

You’ve got a bunch of proud fans behind you just waiting to cheer you to a championship.

Jeff Edwards is the sports editor for The Democrat. He can be reached at