Battle in the trenches|WC, VHS lines to play key roles

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Call it a tale of two lines.

Experience and cohesion on the offensive line are two big reasons why Warren Central is likely headed for a postseason berth while comparatively, the Vicksburg Gators have suffered a deficit in both attributes.

Warren Central (5-4, 3-2 Region 2-6A) starts five senior offensive linemen and a senior tight end. But the one thing the experienced group doesn’t have is a win over the archrival Gators. Friday, the WC line will have one last chance at Viking Stadium.

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Vicksburg at Warren Central

Last year’s 7-0 loss at Memorial Stadium was particularly galling for the WC seniors. The Vikings had the ball inside Vicksburg’s 5-yard line with four plays to get a score in the game’s final minutes. WC didn’t get in.

“Basically ran the same play four straight times,” WC tight end Layton Breithhaupt said.

“They stopped us,” said WC tackle Steven Jordan.

“The hole was wide open on one of the plays, but (tailback) Joel (Forbes) tripped,” center Karlton Keen said.

“We also had our fullback whiff on one of the Vicksburg guys and he made the tackle for a loss,” Breithaupt said.

Don’t look for that to happen again.

“We’re smarter this year,” said tackle Jamie Gerache.

“We know against Vicksburg, it’s got to be a team effort,” said WC tackle Bradley Scurria.

Viking guard Jimal Johnson, though, says Vicksburg is a different team now that quarterback Les Lemons is playing for Hinds Community College.

“You know, it was just one person for them who scored the only touchdown in both of those games — Les ‘Showtime’ Lemons,” Johnson said.

“We’re better this year,” Scurria said.

“It’s still going to be a tough game,” Keen said.

One thing the Vikings have going for them this season is their strong rushing attack led by senior tailback Tim Jones. Jones is averaging 138 yards per game and comes into the Vicksburg contest with 1,240 yards and 13 touchdowns.

“Having a back like that makes us feel like we are doing our job,” Keen said.

Vicksburg, on the other hand, has struggled all year with its offensive line play and the 0-9 record is a result. The Gators have averaged just 1.24 yards per carry on the ground. No running back has over 200 yards rushing this season. Despite that, coach Alonzo Stevens said his team has had a good game or two.

“Our young guys have just had to grow up against some really good teams this season. We’ve had sophomores and a lot of first year seniors having to go up against teams like Ocean Springs, Tylertown and Madison Central that are loaded with seniors. We feel like our group is coming. We had to kick off our only returning starter in (Danta) Vaughn early on, and that left us really inexperienced up front,” Stevens said.

WC line coach Buddy Wooten did not have that problem.

“This has been a good group of guys. Some games have been better than other games. We had a tough challenge against Clinton,” Wooten said of last week’s 34-15 loss to the third-ranked Arrows.

Last Saturday at Hinds, two former WC linemen started for their respective junior college teams, Danny Bunch for Hinds and Bennie Peoples for Co-Lin. While the current Vikings have no one that size, Wooten likes their cohesiveness.

“All these guys have been together since the seventh grade. Just because they are not 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, doesn’t mean they are not good linemen. They are,” Wooten said.


Contact Jeff Byrd at