QBs Wallace, Cooksey learn fast

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 29, 2009

When Friday’s showdown between Vicksburg and Warren Central gets underway, two new quarterbacks will have a chance to write their names into the annals of the annual grudge match.

Emotions will run high. The adrenaline will overflow like the Big Black River after a rainy October.

WC vs. VHS

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Friday, 7 p.m.

at Viking Stadium

Tickets: $5 and $6, available at the gate or at the Vicksburg Warren School District athletics office

But both Warren Central quarterback Beau Wallace and Vicksburg quarterback Cameron Cooksey feel up to the task.

The key is forgetting about the weight of a community and just focusing on the contest as if it were any other game. Even if it isn’t.

“It’s definitely a big game,” Cooksey said.

“We’ve got to prepare for it like it’s any other game, but it’s going to be more intense.”

Warren Central’s Wallace promised before the season that the Vikings would return to the playoffs and he is on the cusp of fulfilling his promise.

Wallace is the undisputed leader in the huddle for the Vikings despite having to double at free safety on defense. He also serves as the punter on special teams.

After a hot start in which Wallace threw for 155 yards in the season opener against Gulfport and had two TD passes in the first three games, the Vikings have depended almost totally on the legs of running back Tim Jones in region play.

Wallace, a junior, has completed 59 of 120 passes for 619 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions this season.

Warren Central offensive coordinator Larry Tyrone has some simple advice for Wallace going into his first varsity start in the rivalry.

“Just be the leader that you’ve been all season,” Tyrone said. “He’ll run the huddle like he always does. I think he’ll do everything he can to make an impact on the game. He’s a good leader and I think these guys are going to follow him.”

Vicksburg’s field general Cooksey has weathered a storm since taking over for Les Lemons, who led the team to a 9-3 record and a playoff berth last season.

Cooksey was thrown into the fire early, as he shared time with junior Millan Nasif. Cooksey earned the job full-time while Nasif moved to receiver and has become one of Cooksey’s favorite targets.

It’s been a tough adjustment for Cooksey. When things are working like they were against Northwest Rankin, the sophomore signal caller can be a game changer. He completed 26 of 46 passes for 260 yards and two TDs and nearly rallied the Gators to a victory in a 36-21 loss.

But his consistency, thanks to the lack of a running game, substandard pass protection and spotty wideout play, has been lacking.

For every good game, he’s had a couple like the one against Murrah, when he threw two critical interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Or the one against Madison Central, when he completed 7 of 16 passes for only 16 yards and two interceptions.

“When he comes in early, throws good passes and they drop them, that affects his psyche,” Vicksburg coach Alonzo Stevens said. “But he comes back every Sunday, looks at the film, comes out Monday and does a yeoman job. Next year, there won’t be anything you can throw at him that he hasn’t already seen. He’s growing up.”

As for Friday’s game at Viking Stadium, Wallace knows that Cooksey and the Gators will throw everything they can at him. With the prospect of a winless season staring at them, he knows that Vicksburg won’t go down without a fight.

Vicksburg still has a game left next week against Clinton. But ending their season-long slide by beating Warren Central would mean a lot more to the Gators.

“Coach (Brewer) has been telling us that this is their Super Bowl,” Wallace said. “So we need to play our best and not look by it or anything.”


Contact Steve Wilson at swilson@vicksburgpost.com