Vikings rip through first challenge

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 30, 2004

Warren Central running back Larry Warner puts a juke move on Southaven’s Joseph Nester. WC won the game, 33-7. (Jon GiffinThe Vicksburg Post)

[8/30/04]Warren Central’s biggest question mark coming into the 2004 football season was how a rebuilt offensive line would hold up especially early.

After Friday night’s Red Carpet Bowl performance, it’s evident the unit passed the first test.

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The line center Chris Stauts, guards John Stauts and Jonathan Nash, tackles Kendrick London and Chris Kelly, as well as tight end Chase Douglas opened gaping holes for senior running back Larry Warner’s record-setting night. Kelly was the only returning starter.

Warner rushed for a career-high 301 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Vikings to a 33-7 victory.

“He’s a good runner, but they opened some huge holes for him,” said Southaven running back Bryan Fitzgerald, who rushed for 197 yards and the Chargers’ only score. “We’ll have to work on our defense to keep that from happening again.”

WC quarterback Christian Hales threw for 93 yards on five completions, but was rarely pressured by an aggressive Chargers’ defense. Hales’ 32-yard completion to Skylar Wilson early in the contest set up the Vikings’ first touchdown.

“The offensive line and (fullback) Dexter (Carson) blocked outstanding,” Warren Central coach Curtis Brewer said. “They opened up some seams and that is all Larry needed.”

The victory was the first of Brewer’s head-coaching career. The longtime assistant became head coach after Robert Morgan’s retirement. Morgan returned to the sideline as an assistant coach, and the team did not seem to miss a beat.

The defending Region 2-5A champions stopped Southaven on three fourth-down plays, and also thwarted a pair of Southaven drives inside the WC 5-yard line.

“I want to commend our defense on the way they kept fighting and fighting,” Brewer said. “We bent and we bent and we bent, but we never broke. We have to get better. We have to get in better shape.”

Several Vikings left the game with cramps in the 90-plus degree heat.

“I don’t have to tell our guys to get better, they already know that,” Brewer said.

Even Warner thinks his performance can get better. His touchdown runs of 36, 66, 80 and 99 yards broke open a close game. WC led 13-7 at halftime, but scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to turn the game into a blowout.

“I always think I can get 300 yards,” said Warner, who said after his second score that he would gain 300 yards if the coaches left him in long enough. “I set my goals high and try to reach them. If I set my goals low, I wouldn’t produce.”

Brewer said that when Warner gets a hold of the ball, anything can happen.

“Anyone who sits in the stands know’s he electrifying,” Brewer said of Warner. “He has his own brand. When they see 28 touch the ball, they don’t eat their hot dogs.

“Every time he touches the ball, they open their eyes to see what’s going on. Even the coaches stop and look.”