WC secondary to get big test vs. Gentry QB

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 22, 2000

For four Warren Central defenders, homecoming could be quite a workout.

The starting four defensive backs Carlton Bradford, Jonathon Gardner, Jeffery Watkins and Chris Hemphill will face their toughest challenge of the year as Gentry (0-4) and record-setting quarterback Michael Spurlock come to town for the Division 3-5A opener.

Spurlock, the state’s all-time leading single-game passer with nearly 600 yards in a 74-71 loss to Ruleville Central, has 13 touchdown passes in just four games. The Rams will line up in the shotgun and throw the ball virtually every down.

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He tossed nine TDs and ran for two more in the Ruleville loss.

“The quarterback runs around a lot and (the defensive backs) just have to keep backing up,” said Gardner, a senior. “He can throw it at any time and he has a very strong arm.”

All four Vikings said the play of the defensive line and the linebackers will be a key to keeping them from wearing out their cleats.

“To shut him down, we will have to keep him contained,” said Watkins, a junior. “The line will have to keep him contained so the defensive backs don’t have to come up.”

The Vikings got a preview, sort of, one week ago against then-No. 7 McComb quarterback Damien Givens, who completed about 25 percent of his passes.

Gentry, however, is no McComb, coach Robert Morgan said.

“They are not a very good team,” Morgan said. “Their special teams aren’t very good. About the only thing they got going is the quarterback.”

The Rams put up a lot of points, but also allow more on a nightly basis.

Coach Ricky Taylor, who was an assistant at Alcorn State during the Steve McNair era, said his young wide receivers have kept the Rams from scoring more.

“(Spurlock) has 13 touchdowns, but he probably has had 13 more dropped,” Taylor said. “We have a lot of kids that are still growing up and learning to catch the ball. We hope we can continue to improve in that area, and we need to find some defensive consistency.”

Taylor said his team is weak in run defense. Ruleville’s Noah Ingram set the state single game rushing record with 506 yards in their offensive free-for-all.

That should play right into the Vikings’ strengths. WC uses a balanced running game to set up the pass from quarterback Brett Morgan.

Patrick Minor leads the Vikings with 230 yards and three touchdowns and Perry McGee had a 75-yard touchdown run in the win over McComb. The Vikings have been rotating running backs trying to get the right fit, with fullback John Hicks also having 200 yards and Leonard Harris 115, with two touchdowns.

“If we get our running game going, I think we definitely have them beat,” Watkins said. “If we can stick to our offensive and defensive plans, we will be all right.”

WC will be making only its second appearance of the season at home tonight.

“I told our guys four weeks ago that we could have a very good football team,” Robert Morgan said. “… We’ve got a good enough team on any given night to play hard and whup somebody, but there’s a lot of teams that can whup us.

“I look forward to us getting better and better and look forward to seeing people get excited. We need something to get excited about and I’m getting more excited about this team every day.”