Vikings air it out in spring game|[05/11/07]

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 11, 2007

Warren Central’s offense in 2006 could best be described as three yards and a cloud of dust. That’s as in, three yards over the course of three downs and a cloud of dust kicked up in frustration.

After throwing for just 386 yards and barely cracking 1,000 as a team rushing the ball, WC’s coaches knew a fresh approach was needed. What they came up with isn’t revolutionary in the football world, but is something that hasn’t been seen around Viking Stadium in quite some time.

Warren Central unveiled its &#8220Viper” package – a four-receiver, shotgun set – with success during its spring game against Northwest Rankin on Thursday. The Vikings’ varsity completed 11 of 20 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns in two quarters of action in a 17-14 loss to the Cougars.

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The pass-heavy attack was a remarkable shift for an offense that has relied on the run for years.

&#8220We had an objective that we wanted to accomplish in the spring. The coaches decided we needed to spend time working on the spread offense. We made a commitment to work on it and use it,” WC coach Curtis Brewer said. &#8220It gives you a different rhythm and it helps the quarterback. It’s something Northwest Rankin hadn’t seen, and in the spring game it’s not unusual to have that kind of success.”

The Vikings started installing the spread in January and spent the majority of the two weeks of spring practice working on it. Quarterbacks Keaton Sanders and Larry Davis both said they felt comfortable with it and each looked that way on Thursday.

Sanders was 7-for-13 for 99 yards and a TD, but threw four of his incompletions on a last-ditch drive in the final 22 seconds. Davis was 4-for-7 for 82 yards and one score, a 49-yard strike to Cordell Valentine.

&#8220I liked that we’re putting it in, because I can see the defense better and have more time to throw,” said Sanders, who was often hammered as soon as he dropped back last season. &#8220I think we’ll be a lot more effective with the shotgun.”

Although the Vikings have put a lot of time into the spread, Brewer said it won’t be their base offense when they face South Panola in the season-opening Red Carpet Bowl on Aug. 31.

He said it was just a different look, and a way to better use some personnel. The familiar, grinding running game of the past will still be used.

&#8220We were so limited last year. When you try doing that, you just can’t throw that in in the middle of the season unless you have great skill players and we didn’t have that last year. We seem to have some skilled receivers this year that you can spread out,” Brewer said. &#8220We’re not going to be a wide open offense, passing every play. That’s not going to be in the scheme.”

While the offense raised eyebrows in the spring game, Warren Central’s defense also showed it wasn’t going to take a step back after last season’s strong showing. The varsity only allowed 10 points in its half on the field and stiffened when it needed to.

Each team’s junior varsity played the first two quarters. Northwest’s J.D. Lindsey scored on a 3-yard TD run with 1:16 left in the second quarter for the only score of the first half and a 7-0 lead.

Northwest Rankin’s second touchdown drive, which came early in the fourth quarter, was aided by two personal foul penalties. After a Warren Central fumble ended a potential game-sealing scoring drive deep in Northwest territory, the Cougars set up Drew Colson’s game-winning field goal with a 38-yard screen pass.

Northwest only gained nine yards on its next four plays, though, and Colson hit his 32-yard field goal against no rush.

The penalties and mistakes are correctable, Brewer said, and he praised his team for its overall effort.

&#8220We spent more time in the spring on offense,” Brewer said. &#8220They (defense) did extremely well. There were a couple of balls we could’ve picked off that we didn’t, but that’ll come. We’re expecting another aggressive football team.”