Vikings can’t finish

Published 11:46 am Tuesday, October 25, 2011

CLINTON — Once again Warren Central was right there in a competitive game, with a chance to make it even closer.

Sophomore defensive end Jarvis Baldwin picked up a loose ball and was running toward a touchdown when Clinton wrestled him down at the Clinton 4-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Clinton was leading 17-7 but a touchdown there and the Vikings would be within three.

Instead, Warren Central couldn’t dent the end zone. A handoff to Given Breckenridge picked up three yards to the 1. The Vikings lined up in a full house backfield, going left with Aaron Stamps, but gained nothing. On third down, they tried a quick handoff to Breckenridge, and again, no gain. On fourth down, they tried a straight ahead plunge with Stamps, but Clinton had the play sniffed out and dropped him for a 1-yard loss.

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The goal line stand loomed large as Clinton went on to post a 24-10 victory and pretty much nail shut the Vikings’ playoff chances.

At 1-8 overall and 1-4 in Region 2-6A, the Vikings need a lot of help. First they have to beat archrival Vicksburg Friday at Viking Stadium and Jim Hill (1-8, 1-4) in the regular season finale on Nov. 4. Then they need Greenville-Weston (2-7, 1-4) to beat Clinton ( 4-5, 2-3) on Friday and get some help from the Gators (3-6, 1-4) against Clinton on Nov. 4 in Vicksburg.

Second-year Vikings coach Josh Morgan was more concerned about getting his young team to end a frustrating season on a good note.

“We’ve got two games left and we want to finish the season strong,” Morgan said. “The guys keep playing hard.”

Warren Central’s problems are twofold. They are a young on defense and not very big on the offensive line. All five of the starting linemen are 5-foot-11 or below. The lack of size on the line is ironic, considering four former WC offensive linemen — John Gustavis, Bennie Peoples, David Henderson and Steven Jordan — currently play college football.

The good news is that there is some good size on the team, but it’s all in the 9th and 10th grades.

The same goes for the defense, where WC starts three sophomores and a junior on the defensive line. The team’s second leading tackler, Jade Pollock, is a sophomore. The most promising player, safety Curtis Ross, is just a freshman.

Clinton was able to take advantage of the Vikings’ inexperience with several big runs. Running back Keonte Harper ran 30 times for 126 yards and quarterback Cale Luke added another 69 off well-timed draw plays.

Still, the WC defensive unit was able to come up with a pair of turnovers to keep WC in the game until the final minutes.

Clinton coach Scott Brown said the Vikings show promise.

“They played well,” Brown said. “They were one play away from being right there. I think they are right on the verge of turning things around.”