WC hoping to clinch region title

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

Warren Central’s Desmond Carson (80) drags down a Murrah runner during the Vikings’ win two weeks ago. (Meredith SpencerThe Vicksburg Post)

[10/29/04]Warren Central has been building upon each week with a single goal that it can accomplish tonight.

By defeating Grenada, the Vikings can lock up the Region 2-5A championship with a week to go in the season. Last year, WC needed a victory over Vicksburg in the final game to claim the title.

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“If we win this one, we won’t have to depend on anybody else,” WC coach Curtis Brewer said. “Our destiny is in our own hands.”

The eighth-ranked Vikings (8-1, 5-0) and the Chargers (7-2, 4-1) are two of seven teams in Class 5A that have clinched playoff spots, so the game is also about jockeying for position in the first round.

Grenada is currently the third seed in Region 2-5A and would match up with No. 6 Olive Branch (8-1), which defeated the Chargers 21-3 earlier this season. As the top seed, Warren Central would face Columbus (4-5) if the playoffs started today.

Grenada is hoping to avoid finishing fourth and facing top-ranked South Panola in the first round.

“If we win it, we’ll be in a lot better shape,” Grenada coach John McCrory said. “I think everybody would like to avoid Panola if they could.”

Either way the road to the state title likely will run through Batesville against the defending state champion Tigers, who have won 21 straight games dating back to 2002.

But Brewer is far more concerned about tonight’s game against the Chargers.

“It’s just like the rest of them,” he said. “The last two or three weeks, they’re all important and they’ve all built to this game.”

For Warren Central, getting points early is the key. Two weeks ago, the Vikings came out sluggish and struggled to a 33-12 win at Murrah (2-6). WC atoned for that performance with a 31-0 shellacking of Clinton last week, in which it jumped on the scoreboard early and often.

“That’s what we’re going to have to do with this bunch because they’ve got some great athletes on offense,” Brewer said of Grenada.

Grenada runs a spread offense with four receivers. Starting quarterback Johnny Allen broke his leg against Vicksburg on Sept. 24. Backup Matt McCrory, the coach’s son, has taken over and the offense hasn’t missed a beat, scoring 91 points in four games since.

“We haven’t seen him rattled on films,” Brewer said of Matt McCrory. “He drops quick and throws quick, so it’s hard to get pressure on him.”

Matt McCrory’s favorite target has been 6-foot, 5-inch wideout Jeremy Johnson, who totaled eight catches for 135 yards against Madison Central two weeks ago. But John McCrory said it’s not just about one player in his offense.

“The good thing about running the spread is that it’s a team-oriented deal,” he said. “We’ve got five running backs, four or five receivers, and all have contributed for us.”

Grenada’s passing game may play right into the hands of the Vikings’ defensive backs, who have totaled 18 interceptions on the year.

“The secondary has been consistently good all year,” Brewer said. “But what you’re going to have to do this week is pass-rush with the basic front four and try to make the young quarterback nervous without sending your linebackers so much.

“The secondary’s going to have another challenge.”