Vikings brace for ’Hounds

Published 12:03 pm Friday, August 20, 2010

Warren Central’s first-year coach Josh Morgan won’t have an easy debut.

But he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We have so many question marks,” Morgan said. “This is our first live test. It’ll be a very good evaluation period while answering some of these questions.”

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The Vikings take on Ocean Springs in the opener of the Red Carpet Bowl tonight and the Greyhounds bring a team that is loaded for bear, despite losing 13 seniors.The Greyhounds finished 11-3 and won their third-straight 4-6A championship before losing to Oak Grove 27-6 in South State finals in 2009.

Ocean Springs coach Todd Mangum has turned the ‘Hounds into a force to be reckoned with, going 39-11 in his four years at the school.

The key for the Vikings will be preventing something that the Greyhounds do in bunches: big plays.

One of those big playmakers is Joe Morrow, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound giant of a wide receiver who also plays defensive back. Like DeAndre Brown, another big, tall Ocean Springs wideout who catches passes now for Southern Miss, Morrow is a big target and a deep-ball threat on every possession.

Last season, the Mississippi State committment had 39 receptions, 762 yards, 11 touchdowns and, on defense, he had three interceptions.

“He is an exceptional player — he’s huge,” Morgan said. “He’s a big-time playmaker. He makes two or three extraordinary plays a game in the film we’ve seen. We’re not going to adjust what we’re going to do. We’re going to play our defense. We’ll keep a safety over the top of him and put our best guy on him and play ball. We’ve got to take away their big plays and he’s their big-play guy.”

But the Greyhounds are far from a one-dog race. Running back Dewayne Cherry, a burly 5-foot-11, 220-pound senior, is a home run threat any time he gets the ball. He rushed for 922 yards and seven touchdowns last season playing behind Allen Howze, who is now at Southern Miss.

“They’re going to rely a lot on the heavy running of the tailback,” Morgan said. “And they’re going to use play-action on screens to get the ball to the Morrow kid.”

Garrett Somers, who threw two TD passes in last year’s Red Carpet Bowl win over Vicksburg in mop-up duty, will take over the reins at quarterback. The Vikings will try to rachet up the pressure on him in his first varsity start.

The defensive is keyed by Dawson Wells, a 210-pound senior linebacker who had 95 tackles and 11 sacks last season.

Another debut will be the Vikings’ new-look offense. Senior quarterback Beau Wallace will be running the show, but the offensive line is strong in talent, but sorely lacking in game experience.

His mobility will take some of the heat off a young line, who won’t have to hold their blocks as long.

“He is a kind of a wildcard,” Morgan said. “If a play is busted, he’s supposed to get us out of it. He’s the leader of our team. It helps with play-calling, that trust. It’s a big boost for our offense. He’s one of our better athletes and he fits the offense we’re going to run.”