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A family divided in green and red

Vicksburg’s Harold Knight, front left, Eugene Morgan, center, and Warren Central’s Otis Stamps are cousins that will be battling against one another in tonight’s annual VHS-WC matchup at Memorial Stadium. (Jon GiffinThe Vicksburg Post)

[11/5/04]On Thursday, less than 24 hours before the biggest game of the season, Vicksburg High linebacker Harold Knight went behind enemy lines.

His mission was simple eat dinner, enjoy some relaxed conversation, and endure an earful of trash-talk from an annoying little cousin.

Knight, as well as VHS quarterback Eugene Morgan, are cousins of Warren Central cornerback Otis Stamps. They’re a close-knit bunch who grew up together, played on the same youth football team, and still hang out together.

Tonight, however, when the Gators and Vikings meet in the latest installment of their crosstown rivalry, they’ll be on opposite sides of the field for the final time. It’s the kind of brother vs. brother atmosphere that the WC-VHS rivalry is famous for.

“(Knight) always tells me he hopes I get on offense and get near his way so he can hit me,” Stamps said with a laugh. “I tell him if I don’t catch a pass, he better be looking for a red helmet.”

All three figure to play prominent roles in tonight’s game. Morgan is the starting quarterback for VHS and Knight is tied for the team lead with 81 tackles. Stamps leads the Vikings with seven interceptions.

Morgan, a senior, knows he’ll never hear the end of it if he’s unlucky enough to float a pass in Stamps’ direction.

“He’ll probably be talking about it all the time,” Morgan said. “I know it’s going to be fun.”

When the game is over tonight, there won’t be any bad feelings either. With this family, whatever happens on the field stays there.

“It never ends in big arguments. We’re always laughing, playing, talking about it at the end,” Stamps said. “I’ve seen other families where they get to arguing about it and it turns into a big brawl.”

While tonight’s focus is on football, Thursday night was all about family and, of course, football.

At the beginning of the season, Knight jokingly invited himself to the Stamps’ house on the eve of the WC game. As the day drew closer, the invitation became more and more serious. Eventually, it turned into a firm plan.

“It surprised me, because I didn’t know he was going to do that,” Morgan said with a laugh when he heard of the sleepover. “He’s going toward the enemy camp. But it’s all good. It’s family.”

While the three football players promised to keep the trash-talking to a minimum a pledge enforced as much by the VHS and WC coaching staffs as by each other there were no such restraints on another cousin.

Stamps’ younger brother, Christopher, is only in grade school. He’ll do enough talking for all three of them, Knight said.

“I ain’t going to say nothing. They’re going to start. It ain’t going to be nothing but his little brother,” Knight said, adding that he thinks he’ll still be welcome at the Stamps’ house if the Gators pull off an upset. “They’re going to let me back.

“I’m going to get his little brother the next morning.”