Vikings’ defense shoots for fourth shutout this season

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 10, 2003

[10/10/03]On one inside wall of Warren Central’s fieldhouse, just below the tackle chart and to the right of the offensive statistics, is another chart with a large black square in the middle.

The square started as a few filled-in boxes indicating that the Vikings had achieved several of their weekly defensive goals. After three consecutive weeks of defensive dominance, however, the square has grown into a large black mass that threatens markers everywhere.

Following lackluster efforts against McComb and South Pike, WC coach Robert Morgan turned to the chart on the wall in an effort to turn his defense around.

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“I have the goals up on the wall, but I just stuck it up there and didn’t emphasize them,” Morgan said. “That’s like a teacher giving a test and not teaching what’s going to be on it.”

He began emphasizing the importance of achieving the goals on it things like holding opponents under a certain number of first downs or rushing yards, or not allowing any points and the defense took the lessons to heart.

Of the 10 goals on the chart, the Vikings have achieved seven in each of the last two weeks, and posted three straight shutouts. Natchez, Forest Hill and Greenville, the Vikings’ three victims, totaled less than 400 yards of offense between them.

“The first couple of games, we weren’t paying too close attention on games,” said WC linebacker Jesse Pedyfoot, who leads the team with 42 tackles. “The last couple weeks we’ve been paying attention and doing our work, and it’s showing.”

Part of the Vikings’ success has come from their system for organizing the depth chart. On offense and defense, WC’s first team is two players deep. That has helped shore things up when injuries creep in by keeping experienced players on the field, and has also allowed the defense to keep making plays.

So far, 11 different Vikings have recorded at least one sack or one interception. Only linebacker Michael Horton has a sack and an interception.

“We have so many go-to guys, they’re wherever we need them,” defensive back Jason Williams said. “There’s just so many of them.”

While he is proud of the defense, Morgan is trying to keep an even keel. He pointed out that part of the success has come from facing weaker teams among the Vikings’ opponents only South Pike, which trounced WC 33-9, has a record over .500, and two teams have started 1-5 and that this week’s game against Madison Central (4-2, 2-0 Region 2-5A) would provide a true test.

“I feel like our defense has come along. We’ll hit you, but we might make a mistake,” Morgan said. “If we shut Madison down, I’ll say we’re coming along.”

Madison has given WC (4-2, 2-0) fits over the years, and a win would do more for the Vikings than give them some revenge. The winner of this game has an inside track on a playoff berth and the region championship.

Morgan said getting back to the top of the region was another important goal for he and the Vikings. The winner would get a home playoff game in the first round, and might be able to get top-ranked South Panola at home in the North State championship game if they can advance that far.

“For us to be recognized as a threat to win our division, this is an important game. This will make us a legitimate contender to win the division championship,” Morgan said, adding that the early spot on the schedule might make the game seem less important than it is. “It just seems like a game.

“It’s not. It’s a big boy, and it could have far-reaching effects on our division and our Vikings.”