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Vikings ready to run under first-year coach

[10/22/01]For the first time in school history, Warren Central will have an indoor track team.

They’ll just be disguised in basketball uniforms.

First-year coach Preston Wilson, who averaged more than 20 wins per season at Brookhaven, brings an up-and-down, fast-break offense to a Vikings team in search of an identity.

“We’re hoping, especially at the guard position, that experience will help us be successful,” said Wilson, whose team will open against Bailey on Saturday at Raymond. “We’ve asked a lot of them.”

The Vikings, who finished last season 14-15 under John Duett, have 14 juniors and seniors on the team. Wilson will dress only 15 players, and most of them will see plenty of playing time.

WC will run on offense and press on defense relentlessly. Wilson calls it controlled chaos.

“Overall, they’ve accepted the new system,” Wilson said. “We’re finally getting the press where we want it and hopefully, it will benefit us with the depth that we have.

“We’ll play at least nine or 10 people per game, maybe even 11 or 12.”

The Vikings will run two- and three-man substitutions every two or three minutes, Wilson said.

“We’re a little behind right now,” Wilson said. “We haven’t gotten as much in on the defensive end as we’d like. Of course, we stress defense a lot more early in the season.”

Ronnie Jones will replace All-County point guard Kevin Coker.

Jones, a 5-foot-8 lightning-quick junior, will have to help replace Coker’s 11 points and four assists per game.

Senior Clifford Walker returns as the Vikings’ sharpest shooting guard and will start at the second guard.

“Ronnie is small but strong,” Wilson said. “He realizes his main objective is to get to the basketball as quickly as possible. He has to set the tone on defense.

“Our two and three players will have to be very aggressive on the press.”

Sherman Logan, who led the Vikings with an 11.5 points per game average, will start at power forward.

Brian Phelps, Walter Cook and Clifton Walker are battling for the starting small forward spot.

At center, junior Steven McDevitt will battle with Port Gibson transfer Chi-Chi Ezekewe and Dewayne Washington.

“We have to have some decent athletes to run what we want to run,” Wilson said. “Hopefully, they’ll stay within the program and accept the program. If we can get some early wins, we should be successful.”

The Vikings will also be tested in the division. Clinton returns several starters and Natchez is expected to go deep into the state playoffs.

Vicksburg, with the loss of a bevy of seniors from last year’s team, is never an easy win.

“It’s very tough,” Wilson said. “I had some success with Natchez while I was at Brookhaven. Hopefully, I’ll find a way to be competitive in this district.”