WC begins tough stretch with McComb
Published 12:00 am Friday, September 6, 2002
[09/06/02]For the next two weeks, Warren Central’s opponents will be from a lower class than the Vikings. That doesn’t mean the competition won’t be first-class, however.
The Vikings travel to face No. 18 McComb tonight, the 2000 Class 4A champions and a playoff team a year ago. Next week, WC hosts 2001 Class 4A runner-up South Pike, ranked 14th in the Associated Press poll.
“They’re very good,” WC coach Robert Morgan said. “They’re both ranked teams. I honestly feel if we can play with them and beat them, then we can play with anybody on our schedule.”
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Warren Central has won its last three meetings with McComb, including last year’s 13-6 victory in overtime, but no game has been decided by more than 14 points.
“It’s never been a runaway. They’re just good,” Morgan said. “Playing down there is not a lot of fun. You don’t have a lot of friends down there. It’s just hostile territory, from the referees to the fans, to the cheerleaders, to the mascot.”
Last year’s meeting came down to who made fewer mistakes, although neither team was able to limit them. Both teams turned the ball over on several occasions, and WC had two punts blocked.
One of the blocks was recovered by McComb for a touchdown, while the Vikings got even with a long fumble return for a score. Avoiding those kinds of mistakes especially on special teams and controlling the clock would be a key, Morgan said.
“On defense, we can’t let these guys get a couple of touchdowns because their defense is pretty good,” Morgan said.
The offense isn’t bad either. Led by fullback Eltrio Spears and tailback Michael Lewis, the Tigers prefer a grind-it-out, run-based attack similar to WC.
In a 34-28 win over Class 5A Hattiesburg in the season-opener, McComb quarterback Pat Barnes threw only three passes. The Tigers totaled more than 300 yards on the ground, led by Spears’ 85-yard, three-touchdown performance.
“We’re going to try and control it. If we can control the clock, we have a good chance to win,” McComb coach Ted Milton said.
Milton added that he wasn’t expecting any surprises from Morgan, either. Just the usual brutal brand of smashmouth football that is WC’s trademark. In the Vikings’ opener over Liberty-Eylau from Texarkana, Texas, tailback Richmond Fields ran for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
“They have a very good football team. It’s the usual Coach Morgan football team. They don’t do anything fancy and just come at you for 48 minutes,” Milton said. “They’re a very patient football team, and they’ve really got us concerned with their size and their speed.”
WC isn’t ranked coming into the game, but that could change in a hurry with a sweep of the Pike County schools in the next two weeks. Morgan said he wasn’t concerned with any polls, however, except the final one.
“It don’t make a flip to me,” Morgan said of being unranked. “It probably bothers the kids. But if it does, good, if it doesn’t, good, but I’d like to be up there when it’s all over.”