Vikings hope to feast on mistake-prone ‘Dogs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 19, 2002

[09/19/02]The cover of Warren Central’s scouting report for Friday night’s game at Natchez reads: “They are the kind of team that is just ready to explode.”

That depends a lot on which Natchez team shows up. On one hand, the Bulldogs can boast that they played Madison Central to overtime, losing by a touchdown. On the other, the Bulldogs can wallow in the fact that turnovers against Wilkinson County and Vicksburg led directly to two big losses.

Second-year coach James Denson, who spent many years at South Delta High School, doesn’t know what it is.

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“That one time we came out and handled the ball really well,” said Denson, whose team is 0-3, but will be playing its first home game of the season. “I don’t think it’s fundamentals, because we work on them all the time. It has to be more mental.”

In the Madison game, Natchez turned the ball over only once and it didn’t lead to any Jaguars’ points.

Denson said if his team puts the ball on the field this Friday night, they’re is in trouble.

Warren Central carries a 3-0 record and the state’s No. 9 ranking into Natchez. In the three wins, the Vikings have won the turnover battle.

“One thing Warren Central has been able to do over the years is take turnovers and capitalize on them,” Denson said. “They do an excellent job of cashing in on other teams’ mistakes.”

In WC’s 24-7 win over then-No. 9 South Pike last week, the Vikings turned three Eagles’ turnovers into 17 points.

What WC coach Robert Morgan has to avoid is his team having a letdown. After consecutive wins over ranked teams, the Vikings will play a Natchez team that has not had success in several years.

“Win or lose or whatever, if we play good and hard, I’ll be satisfied,” Morgan said. “But if we play good and we play hard, we should win. That’s the bottom line.

“If we go down there half-cocked, some things could happen.”

Denson took over the program two years ago in an attempt to breath life into it. The athletes are there, Morgan said.

“Ability-wise, they are as good as anyone,” Morgan said.

Running behind a very large offensive line that averages well over 300 pounds across, the Bulldogs will look to quarterback Leon Stewart, who reminds Morgan a little of South Pike QB Fred Jones. Junior tight end Anthony Strauder is the team’s best player.

“He runs the field like a wide receiver,” Morgan said of the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder.

The Vikings came out of the South Pike game healthy, Morgan said. Rod Montgomery left the game early with a slight knee injury, but will play, Morgan said.

This will mark the final non-region game for WC and will be their third road game of the year.

WC opens region play on Sept. 28 at home against Forest Hill.

“We’re getting some games under our belt and winning at the same time,” Morgan said. “That’s very big.”