Lights Out

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 8, 2004

Warren Central defenders (clockwise from bottom) Jesse Pedyfoot, Desmond Carson, Zach Balthrop, Otis Stamps, Donald Neal, Chico Hunter and Michael “Tiger” Robinson make up the core of the defense dubbed “Lights Out.” The team will host Madison Central in a key Region 2-5A game tonight at 7:30 p.m.(Meredith SpencerThe Vicksburg Post)

[10/8/04]After each Warren Central football game, members of the defense inspect their once shiny red WC helmets.

They look for scuff marks, cracks in the facemask and any other remnants of opponents uniforms.

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Most are still relatively clean, save a few scuff marks.

They have yet to have the perfect hit.

“My best hit’s still to come,” said Chico Hunter, arguably the hardest hitter of the bunch dubbed “Lights Out”. “After each game we look at our helmets to see what we’ve done.”

The defense has done plenty so far. In six games, WC has allowed an average of 10 points per game, and even when they struggled last were in the first half against Greenville, the second half was a much different story.

Starting with a Donald Neal hit on one of the Hornets running backs, the Vikings slammed Greenville players into submission. Late in the game, the Hornets would fall to the ground instead of taking a hit.

“Every time someone comes across the middle, I want to make them pay,” said WC junior Michael “Tiger” Robinson. “I want to let them know that I am only 150 pounds, but I hit like I am Ray Lewis.”

The secondary has been making the biggest hits this season, and disrupting passing games. Otis Stamps leads the team with four interceptions and Hunter has three. Neal and Robinson disrupt anything that comes there way.

“We have some kids that enjoy hitting,” WC coach Curtis Brewer said. “Sometimes we get to wanting to hit too much, we get out of position.

“Every week I say something about the secondary. Facts are facts, they have made some big stops.”

The Vikings’ defense started early in the season-opener against Southaven. The Chargers drove inside the 5-yard line three times without scoring a point. Southaven even had a fourth down about 3 inches from the goal line only to come up empty-handed.

The defense will face its toughest test in weeks tonight against Madison Central. The Jaguars are undefeated in Region 2-5A and have suffered only a 20-8 setback to second-ranked Wayne County.

Madison mixes run and pass behind running back Barlow Vance and quarterback Tim Buckley. Buckley has thrown for 800 yards and five touchdowns this season.

“It’s important that we hit this game,” Stamps said. “They are going to try to run at us, then pop off a pass. We have to put a helmet on them.”

If WC has had a weakness, it would be stopping the run up the middle. Greenville had success getting into the secondary throughout the first half.

“They are running the ball up the middle at us, and we expect a lot of that Friday night,” middle linebacker Zach Balthrop said. “We need to do what it takes to stop it. And we will stop it.”

Many players pointed to junior Desmond Carson, an interior lineman, as the hardest hitter on the team. Hunter said Carson’s ability to get into the backfield and hit running backs and quarterbacks, fuels the rest of the defense.

Carson, along with Jesse Pedyfoot, do most of their talking with their shoulder pads.

“I call it playmaker mode,” Carson said. “You get on that field and nothing else matters. All that matters is hitting the first helmet you see.”

Carson, who wears No. 80, even gave a glimpse into when his motor is cranked up to full speed. When his right leg begins to shake, “it’s on,” he said.

The winner of tonight’s game will have the lead in the chase for the region championship. Warren Central has allowed more than seven points only once, while Madison is averaging 29.5 points per game, and has allowed 15 points per game.

An overflow crowd is expected at Viking Stadium, and the players said it will not take long for the adrenaline to start pumping.

“Just seeing everyone around me getting crunk, that’s what I like,” Pedyfoot said. “It’s all an adrenaline thing. We know we’ve done good when we look around and see our teammates jumping around. We feed off of that.

“… Madison will come in here ready to play. But we’re not letting anyone come in here and take over. This is our house.”