WC opens region with big matchup|Prep football

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 25, 2009

During its recent playoff drought, Warren Central has often been able to point to a play here or there that could have changed the course of the season.

All too often, a few of them came not late in the season but rather in late September against Northwest Rankin. WC has lost its last four games against the Cougars, by a total of 29 points. Three of those games were decided by six points or less. A touchdown here or a defensive stop there, and the Vikings might have made the playoffs.

As they head to Flowood to face Northwest Rankin once again in the Region 2-6A opener tonight, it’s a lesson the Vikings are taking to heart. WC has established itself as a contender through the first month of the season and Northwest Rankin, despite an 0-4 record, is a perennial contender. A WC victory tonight would go a long way toward putting the team back in the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

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“It’d be a big step for these kids and a big step for Warren Central,” WC coach Curtis Brewer said. “You don’t want to be sitting there the last two ballgames and hope somebody else wins. You want to put yourself in a good position.”

When it comes to playing Northwest Rankin (0-4), the Vikings (2-2) have not done that in recent years. WC has not allowed more than 14 points in any of its last four losses to Northwest, but has not scored more than nine.

Last season, a field goal and a PAT were blocked and the Vikings committed two fourth-quarter turnovers in a 13-9 loss.

In 2007, Northwest won a 13-7 slugfest. The year before that, WC turned the ball over six times in a 14-0 loss. And in 2005, a stalled drive deep into Northwest territory early in the second half came back to haunt the Vikings in an 11-6 defeat.

“Every time we play them we’re supposed to win the game, but mental mistakes cost us,” WC linebacker Ja’Ralle Pedyfoot said.

On paper, this might be the Vikings’ best chance to beat Northwest since the streak began. WC’s offense is averaging 24 points a game, its best through four games since 2004. Last season, WC averaged a meager 9.5 points in its first four games.

Northwest Rankin is also struggling, albeit against one of the toughest schedules in the state. Two of its opponents, Louisville and South Panola, played for state titles last season and its opponents are a combined 12-5.

Brewer said the 0-4 mark is a reflection of Northwest’s opponents, and expected another tight game tonight.

“Their record is not reflective of the team Northwest Rankin is. There’s nobody they’ve played that’s not knocking the socks off people,” Brewer said. “They’ll be ready to play. They always are. A couple losses they’ve had, they were right there at the end.”


Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com