Vikings try to stay focused on Murrah

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 31, 2002

[10/31/02]Warren Central coach Robert Morgan admits, on paper, Friday night’s game against Murrah at Jackson’s Newell Field should be a cakewalk for the Vikings.

Warren Central is 8-1, Murrah is 1-8. The Vikings easily trounced Murrah 38-0 last season, their third straight shutout of the Mustangs.

But when you take the other factors surrounding the game into account, things get a little dicey, Morgan said.

Murrah has played several teams tough this season, and rallied from a 27-0 fourth-quarter deficit to scare Vicksburg High in a 27-26 loss on Oct. 11. The Mustangs also have a potentially potent passing game that is due to click, Morgan said.

“What scares me about them is sooner or later they’re going to start hitting on those passes,” Morgan said. “But the bottom line is going to be how we respond. We should win, but that doesn’t mean anything.”

The contest with Murrah is also a dreaded “sandwich game” for WC. The Vikings are coming off their first loss of the season, a tough 6-0 setback to Clinton last week, and will face archrival Vicksburg next Friday in a game with huge playoff implications.

Depending on the outcome of Clinton’s final two games against Callaway and Madison Central, the WC-VHS clash could decide either the Region 2-5A championship or who gets to host a first-round playoff game and who has to travel to North Mississippi.

“This game is very big for us if we want to play at home. We still control our own destiny, and Clinton can still lose one of their games,” Morgan said. “We still have a lot of promise, I still feel that and we’re going to live and die by that. We can make some noise still in the playoffs and the remainder of the year.”

One thing the Vikings won’t do, Morgan said, is look ahead to the showdown with VHS.

“They know better than that,” he said.

So as the Vikings focus in on Murrah, they’ll have to contend with a blur where the receivers are supposed to be.

Murrah has plenty of speed at receiver and on special teams with Jabary Gipson and Jeremy Colman, and Morgan said the best way to defense the Mustangs is simply to keep the ball away from them.

That could involve using the powerful WC ground game to wear down Murrah tailback Richmond Fields and fullback Henry Williams have combined for nearly 1,500 yards this season or other simple strategies.

“(Gipson) reminds me of Freddie Milons, with his raw talent and speed,” Morgan said, referring to the former Starkville and University of Alabama star. “We have to keep the ball, when we can, out of (Gipson’s) hands, as far as kicking to him. We’re going to have to try something to limit his accessibility to the ball.”