SES Reflections: Rams Get Their Swagger Back
As the final minutes were winding down in Benoit, Mississippi, in the first round of the 1A playoffs, the reality for the Vardaman Ram faithful began to set in. Their season was over.
After what some believe to be a turnaround nothing short of miraculous, the Vardaman Rams had made the playoffs for the first time since 2012 behind experienced head coach Larry Gann and his senior class. The trip was short-lived, but it represented something greater than just a trip to the playoffs. It represented the resurrection of a program.
The Vardaman Rams spent the 2013-2015 seasons wandering in the proverbial desert in what was one of the longest playoff droughts in school history. Vardaman only gained a forfeit win in 2013, and did not win a single game in 2014 before coming one region win shy of the playoffs in 2015. The Rams saw glimpses of greatness in 2015 through seniors like Devin Wilson and Brandon Walker and had an extremely talented junior class. Everyone knew that 2016 could be special in Vardaman. It did not disappoint.
Although the Rams opened up with a loss to a powerhouse East Webster team, they quickly bounced back to upset their county rival Bruce in one of the biggest wins of Larry Gann's tenure at Vardaman. The Rams would go on to shut out rival Houlka 53-0 the following week. Vardaman opened up the season 6-2 and undefeated in region play before facing a grueling finish to the schedule. The Rams finished 7-5 and 5-2 in Region 1-1A, their best finish since 2012.
The historic 1A powerhouse Rams may not have won a region title or made it to Starkville for the state championships this season, but 2016 will forever be remembered as a special year. It was the senior year for players like Brandon Washington and Deon Johnson. It was the year that Vardaman upset Bruce on the road. It was the year that the playoff drought ended. It was the year that magic happened.
Vardaman once again has its football swagger. It was a long time coming, but this town is glad to have it back.
*Follow John Macon on Twitter @JMake_2016
**Photo by Sherry Williams.