Common goal for Vikings and Gators: Home playoff game

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 5, 2001

[11/5/01]Warren Central and Vicksburg High will be playing for a lot more than bragging rights on Friday night.

A home playoff game will be on the line as the Gators (8-2, 5-1) look to erase two decades of disappointment against Warren Central (6-4, 4-2), which has won 19 of the 20 games played in the series and has never lost to VHS at Viking Stadium.

The loser will have to travel to either No. 2 Starkville or No. 12 Columbus. Those two meet for the Region 1-5A crown on Friday.

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“It’s gonna be big, I mean really big,” WC linebacker Andrew Patton said right after the Vikings’ 38-0 thumping of winless Murrah. “We have to practice hard all week and not take a day off.”

Kickoff for the crosstown grudge match is set for 7:30 p.m. Tickets will go on sale Tuesday at VHS, WC, Vicksburg and Warren junior highs and at the athletic ticket office. Admission is $4, or $5 at the gate.

“Almost all of our goals are still attainable,” Vicksburg coach Alonzo Stevens said. “If we want to play at home again, we have to play good (on Friday) and our players understand that.

“This is the next game and we’re going to approach it just like that.”

Coaches from both schools met well into Sunday night, breaking down film and devising game plans. Both teams are riding winning streaks that started after they lost to Madison.

The Gators lost 10-0 to the Region 2-5A champion Jaguars on Oct. 5, then reeled off four straight wins including a 30-10 blowout of Clinton.

Warren Central also lost to MC on Oct. 12 and are riding a three-game winning streak, including a three-overtime thriller over Clinton.

“Everyone doubted us during the year,” WC linebacker Tyler DeRossette said Friday night, before coach Robert Morgan imposed a gag order on his players. “We’re in the playoffs, so now we can just play.

“(This) week will be fun and we’re looking forward to it, we just have to get our minds right.”

The Gators will also look to put an end to a 10-game losing streak against WC. In the 20 years since the series started, the Gators won one time 10-9 in 1990.

Vicksburg has been shut out seven times and outscored 172-39 in 10 games at WC.

“I tell people all the time that holler Vicksburg-Warren Central, that’s a rivalry,’ ” Stevens said. “But it’s not. Everybody whoops the other in a rivalry and this isn’t it. We’d like for it to become a rivalry.”

The game will feature two of the best quarterbacks in the state VHS’ Justin Henry and WC’s Brett Morgan, a Mississippi State signee. Henry went over the 1,000-yard plateau in the 27-24 win over Forest Hill. He has tossed eight touchdowns, but injured his ankle in that game.

Morgan, forced to play both ways because of a rash of injuries throughout the season, has thrown for almost 900 yards and seven touchdowns.

J.J. Brown and Phelan Gray, each of whom ran for more than 100 yards on Friday, rank Nos. 2 and 3in the county in rushing. WC’s Richmond Fields and John Hicks come in Nos. 5 and 6 in the county.

“It’s going to be a real tough game,” DeRossette said.

“We know them and know what they can do, so it should be a good game.”