Vikings face big challenge in Olive Branch|Prep football playoffs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 12, 2009

Warren Central faces a big challenge from Olive Branch in Friday night’s Class 6A, first-round playoff game.

The Conquistadors (9-2) have three mammoth, Division I quality offensive linemen led by Mississippi’s top ranked recruit, 6-foot-8, 330-pound Damien Robinson.

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Warren Central at Olive Branch

Robinson is on the short list of schools like Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Oklahoma. He is joined up front by right guard Eric Lawson (6-7, 300), who has committed to Texas Tech and the other tackle is Shalon Coleman (6-7, 285) who is an Auburn committment.

The Conquistador pile drivers open things up for arguably Mississippi’s most productive player, tailback Keshun Shipp. Shipp enters the playoffs with 1,485 yards rushing and another 521 receiving.

Having to face the Conquistadors is some way for Warren Central (6-5) to step back into the playoffs for the first time since a 2005 visit to Olive Branch.

“Left tackle going to Auburn, right guard going to Texas Tech and then there’s Robinson, the top linemen in the state and all 6-foot-8 and 330 pounds of him.” WC coach Curtis Brewer said with a laugh.

“They are just a big talented team. Obviously we’ve got to work up a scheme to give us an opportunity to compete. We need to play near a perfect game and when things go bad, we’ll need to get off the mat,” Brewer said.

“Shipp is very talented. One of the best in the state. He’s 215 pounds and fast and he’s also their top receiver,” Brewer said.

What would help is a start like last week’s game against Grenada. The Vikings opened the game with a 14-play, 79-yard drive featuring the power of 300-pound fullback John Gustavis, who capped the drive with a 5-yard TD run. WC then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and scored on the next play to take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. They went on to post a 20-7 win and clinch a playoff berth.

“The first drive last week followed by getting the fumble and then scoring again was a big deal for us,” Brewer said. “We’re going to need a long time consuming drive to keep their offense off the field.”

Starkville had a similar plan and it kept them in the game until they fell 23-13. Horn Lake played Olive Branch to a one-point game at 28-27.

The Vikings have the backs to make things interesting. Senior Tim Jones leads WC with 1,441 yards and 15 touchdowns. Gustavis has rushed for 380 yards. Quarterback Beau Wallace has passed for 691 yards.

Defensively, the Vikings are led by linebackers Jericho Harris and Austin Roberts. Roberts had a key sack in the Grenada win.

“It feels great to be going to the playoffs. We just have to go out there and stop the run and then see if we can pressure the quarterback,” Roberts said.

One of the key things Brewer and his staff have stressed is for the players to enjoy the moment.

“They should be able to enjoy this and have a good trip,” Brewer said.


Contact Jeff Byrd at jbyrd@vicksburgpost,com