Vikings, Jaguars set for critical’ matchup

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 7, 2004

[10/7/04]Warren Central football coach Curtis Brewer has one thing to say to fans coming to Viking Stadium on Friday night: get there early.

In one of the most anticipated games of the season, a pair of Region 2-5A powers will square off in a game that will give the winner a leg up in the race for the region championship.

“It’s critical for both of us. There’s no sense denying that,” said Madison Central coach Ted Taylor. “Vicksburg and Clinton have already lost. Grenada is still in the mix, but whoever wins this one will be in the driver’s seat. There’s still no guarantees, it’s still early.”

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Both the 11th-ranked Vikings and unranked Jaguars come into the matchup with 5-1 records, and are both 2-0 in the region. Madison is riding a three-game winning streak, while the Vikings have won two straight.

“Whoever wins this game definitely has the inside lane on the track,” Brewer said. “It doesn’t mean you’ll win the district, but if you lose this game, you’re in the outside lane.”

Madison brings in a veteran team that mixes the pass and run. Taylor said he has been emphasizing the pass more recently.

Quarterback Tim Buckley has thrown for 800 yards on 54 completions yards and five touchdowns.

The Jaguars back Buckley up with a running game led by fullback Barlow Vance and halfback Reggie Hicks.

Vance has rushed for a team-best 463 yards and six touchdowns. He had three TD runs in the Jaguars’ 40-21 victory over Murrah one week ago. Hicks scored two touchdowns in the Murrah win.

“They are very solid,” Brewer said. “They have the two good running backs and the quarterback is outstanding. He has great feet and throws the ball really well on the run.”

The Vikings will counter with an offense that is averaging more than 40 points per game, and a defense that is giving up 10 points per game.

Senior running back Larry Warner, who has been nursing a sore ankle, has 1,111 yards on 67 carries a gaudy 16.6 yards per carry average and 12 touchdowns.

Brewer said Warner has been icing his ankle and, “would have to be in a cast” to sit out the Madison game.

“You have to get their blocking broken down if you want to stop him,” Taylor said of Warner. “He’s a competitor and runs hard.”

Quarterback Christian Hales has thrown for 400 yards and four touchdowns.

Defensively, Otis Harris leads the team with four interceptions and Chico Hunter has three.

Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday.

“If people like to see two well-coached teams, playing the game without spreading the ball all over the field running double reverses and shotguns, this will be the place to be,” Brewer said. “This is a game you have to be prepared for everything.

“… It’s going to be a great environment with the spectators, the bands, the cheerleaders and everyone involved.”