WC sparkplug makes life tough on opponents’ D’

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 13, 2003

Warren Central running back Larry Warner eats up yardage in the Vikings’ 19-7 win over the Jaguars on Friday night. Warner rushed for 204 yards and a touchdown in the victory.

(Jon GiffinThe Vicksburg Post)

[10/13/03]It’s not hard to miss Larry Warner when he’s standing on the Warren Central sideline. As Madison Central found out Friday night, it’s pretty easy to miss him when he’s on the field, too.

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Warner, a 5-foot-7, 160-pound junior, made an impressive debut as the Vikings’ starting tailback against the Jaguars by rushing for 204 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. It was the first 200-yard game for a WC back since 1999, and helped the Vikings stay unbeaten in Region 2-5A play with a 19-7 win.

The last WC back to rush for more than 200 yards was Glennial Thomas, who had 209 in a 41-0 win over Gentry on Sept. 24, 1999.

“He’s just a fighter,” WC coach Robert Morgan said. “I want to tell you, he had to have some pretty good blocking. But here’s the thing every back can’t hit those holes. He hit those holes, and he’s a tough son of a gun.”

Warner used his speed to gain some of his yards against Madison, but he also showed plenty of toughness. On nearly every run, he kept his legs churning to pick up extra yards after the first hit.

The extra effort resulted in 11 runs of 5 yards or more, and helped him break an 89-yard run for the game’s first touchdown midway through the second quarter.

On first-and-10 from the WC 11, Warner took a handoff and went off the left side for what appeared to be about a 10-yard gain.

He seemed to be bottled up, but burst through a group of defenders and then outran the defense to put WC ahead 7-0.

“The line was blocking well all night. I followed the fullback, and they just pushed everybody down,” Warner said. “I waited for them, then I bounced to the left side and my wide receiver gave a good block and I just went on with it. I just found an opening.”

Warner had 11 carries for 132 yards at halftime, then keyed another touchdown march at the start of the third quarter. Jason Williams gave WC a 14-7 lead on a 36-yard TD run, but it was Warner who carried five straight times to start the 74-yard drive. Warner gained 34 yards on the drive, nearly half of the Vikings’ total on the possession, to set up Williams’ score.

On WC’s next possession, Warner used his quickness to break a 23-yard run to the Madison 16-yard line. That set up Will Clark’s 35-yard field goal four plays later, giving the Vikings a 17-7 advantage.

“I love Larry. He’s always asking coach, can I get my chance?’ With those little legs, he runs like a packrat or something. He runs good,” said Williams, who also keyed a strong defensive effort with three interceptions in the fourth quarter.

Warner made the most of his chance, and WC coach Robert Morgan said he would be the starting tailback this week against Murrah. Concerns about Warner’s size and durability mean the team’s other backs will still see plenty of carries, but Warner’s ability made an big impression on Morgan.

“Most running backs run to be tackled,” Morgan said. “Larry runs to score on every play. Even in practice, that’s the way he practices.”