California author scores touchdown with book chronicling high school football

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 17, 2004

[11/11/04]The opening quote in Theron Hopkins’ book, “The Eighty-Yard Run,” is from longtime Vicksburg resident Johnny Mims. It reads, “There’s something these boys get out here on the football field that they don’t get anywhere else. I don’t know what it is.”

In August 2003, Hopkins set out on a four-month journey around the country to try to capture the essence of high school football. From his start in Blanco, Texas, Hopkins circled America only to end up back in Texas for the state championship game.

He made Vicksburg his home for a week during two-a-day practices at Warren Central. The second chapter “Where they start and where they finish” takes a deep look at how Warren Central has built its football program to one of the most respected in the state.

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For one thing, it has taken nearly 40 years. For another, the Vikings run the same plays in junior high as they do for the JV team, and eventually the varsity. And then there is the legacy aspect.

“Tradition never graduates” is one of WC’s most used slogans. The uniforms are the same, the helmet decals have not changed in years and even the white socks with thick blue stripes are present at every game.

A state-record 20 straight playoff appearances and two state championships were enough to attract Hopkins to the River City.

The chapter is filled with familiar names of those who have watched or played with the Vikings. Hopkins describes WC junior high coach Bumper Brogdon forcing a too-small helmet over his head proving to the players that, yes the helmets are tight, but they were not designed for their comfort. “It’s designed to keep you from gittin’ kilt, so don’t expect it to fit like a pilla’,” Bumper told his players in the locker room on that first day.

Hopkins writes extensively about Mr. Joe, the Vikings’ longtime fieldhouse manager. Joe Jefferson retired more than 10 years ago, but began working for WC in the state championship year of 1994. He simply got bored in retirement and needed something to do.

Hopkins caught the Vikings in the most grueling of times summer workouts. The California native certainly was not used to the Mississippi summer heat and marveled at the way players reacted one day after practice when watermelon was the treat.

The book captures in great detail what makes Warren Central football stand out from so many others.

Copies are available at the Warren Central fieldhouse. It is published by Twenty Town Press.

Sean P. Murphy is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. E-mail him at