Brett’s graduation will leave hole at WC

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Brett Morgan peers through a hole in the fieldhouse wall his brother, Josh, used to pass him through to get footballs.(The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[11/21/01]The opening in the wall connecting the Warren Central equipment room and the fieldhouse bathroom measures six inches tall and 14 inches wide.

It’s almost impossible to get a football through the opening. A cat would have a hard time getting through it.

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So imagining a young Brett Morgan, 7 years old to be exact, being shoved through the hole by his older brother Josh to retrieve a bag of footballs is even more amazing.

“That’s unbelievable,” WC coach Robert Morgan said. “Ol’ Josh would have done anything. Heck, Brett could have gotten hung up in there and broke his neck, but Josh would have just run off and left him.”

The 6-foot-1 Mississippi State-bound quarterback was once used as a gopher for WC players.

“We’d be like Daddy, give us the keys to get a ball,’ and he’d say, Get outta here, we’re working,'” Brett Morgan recalled with a smile. “One day Josh said We’ve got to get a ball.’ He climbed up there and said, If you can get your head through I know you can get through.’

“He pushed me through. It took me about 20 minutes to get out, but we had the footballs.”

Morgans Robert the coach, quarterback sons Rob, Josh and Brett have been a part of Viking football for 34 years.

But, as the playoffs hit the second round and the Vikings travel to No. 2 Starkville Friday night, the reality of a Morgan-less field gets closer and closer.

Brett, who turned 18 in February, was born shortly before the Vikings started their record run of 17 straight years in the playoffs.

For each of those years, at least one Morgan has stood by his father the coach, in some capacity.

The elder Morgan has a hard time coming to grips with the fact that the run will end soon. There are no more Morgans headed to Viking Stadium.

“I’ll miss all of them, sure, but that’s part of life,” Robert Morgan said. “There comes a time where everyone has to move on and Brett’s about to go through another stage of his life.

” … Those three are a blessing that God gave Cathy and I. They are good boys.”

How much longer?

The impending graduation of Brett begs the bigger question: With no more Morgan boys to play the sport, what about the coach who has been a part of the WC coaching family since 1968.

With family land in Sturgis a Brett Morgan throw away from Starkville and all three of his sons affiliated, or soon to be, with the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the rumors that this will be Coach Morgan’s last year are swirling.

“I have every intention of being here,” Morgan said. “I’m only 21/2 hours from them. We have property there, but it’s family land.

“I have 11 brothers and sisters and we all call it home. I’ve been living here a lot longer than in Sturgis. One day I might go back, but I might not.

“This has been a great job and the people of Warren Central and Vicksburg and the county have made us feel like part of the family. There will be a bunch of more good years at Warren Central.”

In his tenure, Morgan has won 151 games and lost only 62. The crowning achievements on the field came in 1988 and 1994 with the two state championships.

Robert Morgan said even hugging Rob after he led the state championship march paled in comparison to that first hug in 1976 when his first son was born.

“The proudest time in my life was when the doctor came out and handed me Rob, my first son,” Morgan said. “I believe that was the proudest I’ve been.”

In this his 18th season as head coach, Morgan’s Vikings were on the verge of not making the playoffs.

But a dramatic turnaround sparked by Brett Morgan against Clinton has the Vikings on the verge of the North State championship.

The youngest Morgan played almost every down, ran for a touchdown and threw for two, including the game-winner to beat the rival Arrows in triple overtime.

Wins followed against Murrah and crosstown rival Vicksburg to secure the second seed in Region 2-5A. A 23-17 win over Tupelo on Friday night has WC three games from Memorial Stadium in Jackson for a shot at a third state championship.

Coming to grips

Brett Morgan tries not to think about the end of the Morgan playing dynasty.

It’s one of the reasons making the playoffs and getting that first win was so important it kept the season going.

With big-time aspirations ahead in college, the future is bright. But putting up the red helmet and shoulder pads for the last time is a thought he can’t fathom.

“We won’t know how it really is until it’s over,” Brett Morgan said. “But the Big Man is still here, so there will still be a Morgan on the sidelines.

“It will be different, but Warren Central football will still go on.”

The first game Brett remembers was a 1987 playoff game when WC beat Hattiesburg, 12-6. He was 4.

The team pictures that adorn the walls of WC’s fieldhouse show the progression of the Morgan boys from ball boy, to water boy, manager, gopher, player, pest, fixture and hero.

“I’ve been with all three of them, and I’ll be missing them,” said Joe Jefferson Jr., the fieldhouse custodian who arrived in 1994. “They are great kids. Brett, Josh and Michael (Parson) taught me everything I need to know about the fieldhouse.”

Rob was in junior high during the first Vikings’ state championship, then quarterbacked the 1994 game when WC beat Provine, 14-7, in the rain. In that championship game, Josh was the one in junior high. Both were managers.

“Growing up with them put some pressure on me,” Brett Morgan said with a chuckle. “I couldn’t come out and be some rinky-dink. It was awesome, though. I don’t get nervous when I play, but when I watched them, man it killed me.

“You can’t really explain watching your brothers play. We were so nervous for each other.”

Josh, a quarterback and defensive back in his years, led WC to the playoffs in each of his years and a division championship as a senior in 1997, but he could not muster a postseason win.

Brett guided his team to only the second playoff win since the second state title.

Coach Morgan said he feels lucky to have coached all three sons. He never had to worry about where his quarterback was or what he was doing.

“It’s a very unique thing to have breakfast with your quarterback every morning,” Robert Morgan said. “… We’ve worked toward common goals and that’s unusual for a dad to do. I feel fortunate about that.

“I’m thankful I’ve been able to teach them some good things I know, but I bet they’ve picked up some bad things, too. If they did that, though, their mother would straighten that part out.”

A tough task

Robert Morgan has a recent history with Starkville, albeit one he would probably rather forget.

The Vikings lost to the Yellowjackets in the second round in 1995, and the opening round in 1996, ’98 and ’99. A win on Friday night, though, would erase most of those not-so-pleasant memories.

“(Starkville) probably has as much speed as any high school team you’ll see,” Brett Morgan said. “I feel like we can get after them. We can’t let them have big plays and if we can move the ball on offense, put some points on the board, I think we’ll be OK.”

It will also keep a Morgan on the field the home field for at least one last hurrah.

“Brett’s not ready for it to be over and I’m not either,” Robert Morgan said. “We’ll try to win three more, have a good cry and move on.”