WC coaches preach error-free football|[09/21/07]

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 21, 2007

Football coaches love to point out that they it doesn’t matter what the other team does, only how their own team prepares and plays.

It’s a cliche, to be sure, but for Warren Central this week it’s also true.

After playing a nearly flawless game in an opening-night loss to South Panola, the Vikings have fallen off a cliff. Turnovers, penalties and other assorted mistakes have hit them like an avalanche and contributed to two more losses.

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WC had four second-half turnovers in a 7-0 loss to Vicksburg two weeks ago, then committed 173 yards worth of penalties in a 12-10 loss to South Pike last Friday.

It made the Vikings’ coaches realize they needed to focus on the little things. Starting with Monday’s practice, the whistle blew every time a mistake was made. Team-wide sprints and push-ups followed.

WC head coach Curtis Brewer said it wasn’t to punish his players, though. It was simply to grab their attention.

“It’s not what Vicksburg or South Pike did to us, it’s what we did to ourselves,” Brewer said. “We had to make them realize there are consequences for the mistakes. The consequences we faced the last two ballgames is we lost the game because of mental lapses.”

Brewer will get a chance to see how the new approach translates to game success tonight. The Vikings (0-3) travel to Hazlehurst to face a winless Indians team that has only scored two points in three games.

While it looks like an easy game on paper, Brewer cautioned that it might not be. Hazlehurst finished 10-2 a season ago, and its three losses this year have come against some of the best teams in the state.

Franklin County is ranked No. 1 and Tylertown is No. 5 in Class 3A, while Vicksburg is a favorite to reach the Class 4A playoffs. They’ve beaten Hazlehurst by a combined score of 71-2.

Brewer said the Indians were a dangerous, speedy team despite their slow start.

“They’ve got great team speed,” Brewer said. “They spread you out and make you cover the whole field. As a defensive team you can’t cover the edges because then they run it up the middle.”

Still, WC’s biggest concern is its own mistakes. After committing six turnovers in its last six quarters, as well as 20 penalties last week, getting refocused and ready for next week’s Region 2-5A opener at Northwest Rankin is the top priority, Brewer said.

“I think we’re focused,” Brewer said. “We brought it to their attention, and they’re going to have to accept the challenge of limiting our mistakes. We can’t continue to have repeats of the last two weeks.”