Gators, Vikings matchup Friday at Warren Central

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 6, 2003

[11/6/03]Big-time pride and a championship are both on the line Friday night when the Vicksburg Gators meet the Warren Central Vikings in their annual football game.

Both teams are 7-3. Seats will be scarce.

School officials are expecting an overflow crowd for the 6,500-seat Viking Stadium, and advised fans to show up well in advance of the 7:30 kickoff.

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“It’s big because it’s Vicksburg,” said Warren Central coach Robert Morgan, who has 16 wins in 18 chances against Vicksburg since he became head coach in 1985. “There’s a lot of excitement, a lot of hoopla that goes with this game. But it boils down to the 22 guys on the field.”

Vicksburg won last year’s game at Memorial Stadium, 27-12, and the only other time Vicksburg has beaten WC was in 1990 in a game also played at City Park.

“It’s their field, but we’ll have just as many fans there as they will,” Vicksburg coach Alonzo Stevens said. “We have to go out there and play good, errorless football.”

Vicksburg is undefeated in region play with a record of six wins and no losses. WC has won five and lost one in the eight-team region.

In addition to a region championship, a guaranteed home playoff game is on the line for the Vikings. Vicksburg has already secured a home playoff game no matter the outcome Friday night, but Warren Central has to win to guarantee itself a home playoff game on Nov. 14.

Warren Central last won an outright region championship in 1994 and Vicksburg last won a region title in 1984.

“We’re preparing to play a championship-caliber team,” Morgan said. “It’s a 48-minute deal, and we have to play like 11 brothers for 48 minutes. That’s what it amounts to for us.”

Warren Central is led by running back Larry Warner for the bulk of their offense. After substituting for injured junior Fred Payne in the fifth game of the season, Warner has rushed for 897 yards and scored seven touchdowns.

For Vicksburg, quarterback James Jackson has thrown for 1,356 yards and 14 touchdowns. Wide receiver Ben Shelton has caught six of those touchdown passes.

Both teams have strong defenses, recording three shutouts each this season.