WC line, RBs want to be first to pierce Arrows’ defense

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 20, 2000

Antonio Ross said the key to No. 11 Warren Central beating No. 1 Clinton is simple win the battle in the trenches.

“We have to keep our defense off the field and win the battle of the line,” said Ross, a senior offensive lineman who will face his toughest test of the season Friday night. “They have a very talented defense. Their linebacker (William Gavin) and strong safety (Clarence McDougal) are very strong.”

Gavin, a hard-hitting senior, and McDougal, a running back/defensive back who has signed with Mississippi State, lead a defense that has shut down Provine’s and Brandon’s prolific running games.

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The Arrows run a college-style 4-3 defense, WC offensive line coach Sean Brewer said. The basic plan is to rush four lineman and have them tie up the offensive line, leaving the linebackers with free shots at the Vikings’ running backs.

“No one’s been able to run on them and if we can, we’ll be successful,” senior lineman Chris Truitt said. “Even if you get a piece of Gavin it’s better than nothing.”

The Arrows bring a suffocating defense, but their offense can also crank into another gear. The Arrows’ offense will be tested more than ever against a Warren Central defense that ranks in the top five in Class 5A allowing just 10.6 points per game.

The season-ending injury to Coco Hodge and the question surrounding whether Mario King will play have the Arrows in the most vulnerable spot they’ve been in.

King was arrested Wednesday on charges of statutory rape and his status for tonight’s game is in limbo.

Officials from Clinton High School would not comment on the arrest.

McDougal, whose natural position is strong safety, Kendrick Kelly and Desean Dyson will carry the load.

“Defensively they are better than they were and offensively, they score a lot of points,” WC coach Robert Morgan said. “One dimension that could help us is that I just don’t think they throw as good as they have.”

Teddy Dibiase, who was injured early in the season, will share time with sophomore Mike Cashion at quarterback.

The Vikings will counter with a maturing Brett Morgan and a stable of offensive weapons at running back.

“They are a very sound team that runs the ball very well,” said Clinton coach David Bradberry, a one-time assistant at Warren Central. “They have some very good athletes and more team speed than they’ve had.”

Tailback Patrick Minor (454 yards) and fullback John Hicks (546 yards) lead a punishing Vikings’ ground attack. Omar Jackson, Leonard Harris and Perry McGee will also see action at running back.

Clinton has won the last two meetings, but the 1997 Vikings, who were underdogs, throttled the Arrows 35-0 in Clinton.

The Vikings would send the Region 2-5A playoff race into a spin with a win over Clinton. Madison Central has beaten WC by three points and the Jaguars will play Clinton on the final night of the regular season.

A Clinton win over Madison, coupled with WC’s winning the rest of the games, will put the region in a three-way tie, the same way it finished in 1997.

Tiebreakers would then be needed to find a champion.

The top two teams in the region will host first-round playoff games.

“It doesn’t matter what these two teams are playing for, it has always been a good game,” Robert Morgan said. “… They will be the best team we’ve played this year.”