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Vikings host second straight ranked team

Warren Central running back Fred Payne rushes for yards in the Vikings’ 17-7 win over Gulfport on Friday night at Viking Stadium.(Melanie Duncan Thortis The Vicksburg Post)

[9/5/03]Warren Central coach Robert Morgan knows his team can’t overlook McComb.

Year after year, coach and athletic director Ted Milton schedules difficult opponents for his Class 4A team.

“It’s the kind of games we like to play because it helps us,” Milton said. “We may not win them all, but we’ll get better.”

Morgan has warned his team to be prepared for tonight’s 7:30 match at Viking Stadium.

“McComb’s not afraid to play anybody,” he said. “They opened up with Hattiesburg. Then they come back and play us. Next week, they play Wayne County.

“And those are not in their division, those are just to have games. Of course, it’ll make them better.”

That strategy nearly paid off last season.

Warren Central needed a 95-yard drive in the final 1:05 to defeat then-No. 18 McComb. Will Clark’s 20-yard field goal as time expired gave the Vikings the 19-16 win.

“Last year’s game when we played them could have gone either way. We created a lot of breaks for ourselves,” Morgan said. “It’s not by any means show up and win.”

McComb, which finished 8-3 last season, is coming off a 14-12 opening win over Hattiesburg, another Class 5A team. Morgan said he began scouting the Tigers as soon as his 17-7 win over Gulfport was over.

The Tigers (1-0) run several formations that include a wing-T, I-pro and shotgun.

The key cog in their offense is quarterback Pat Barnes, who threw a 48-yard touchdown pass last week. He also takes on kicking and punting duties.

Barnes plays an important role in the ground attack, running several options and sweeps against Hattiesburg.

“The quarterback is their best runner, the best athlete out there. He does a pretty good job,” Morgan said. “If you hem him up, he’ll run on you and he’s probably more dangerous at that than he is throwing.”

Milton admitted that Barnes’ play may determine the game’s outcome.

“He’s a two-year starter, and the way he goes is the way we go,” he said. “He had a pretty good football game (last week), but he’ll get better. We put in a new offense in the spring, and he’s trying to get used to it.”

Milton knows his team has a tough task ahead of them against a Viking team that jumped from No. 20 to No. 9 in the state rankings this week.

“Warren Central is just like it’s been the last five years. They’re an excellent program,” Milton said. “They don’t rebuild. They just retool.”

Milton is concerned with the Vikings’ running game, particularly Amos Chase (three carries for nine yards, three catches for 25 yards last week) and powerful Jesse Pedyfoot (seven carries for 48 yards).

“We’re going to have to do a heck of a job to slow them down,” Milton said.

He also praised junior Christian Hales in his first game as a starter.

“He did well in his first game. He threw the ball well and tried to run a little option,” Milton said.

The Tigers will counter with a quick and aggressive 5-2 defense that has only two starters returning.

The middle will be solid with tackles Chad Newton (235 pounds) and Demetrick Jones (212) and 237-pound nose guard Shawianncko Felder. The defense may also mix in a 3-4 look.