Vikings shoot for solid finish

Published 11:56 am Friday, November 4, 2011

It would be almost understandable for Warren Central to go through the motions in a meaningless regular-season finale against Jim Hill tonight.

The Vikings lost to their archrival Vicksburg last week, were eliminated from playoff contention with the defeat and have nothing to play for except pride.

But the Vikings (1-9, 1-5 Region 2-6A) have done no such thing. WC coach Josh Morgan was happy to see that his team came back on Monday, ready to work and put a positive finish on what has been a trying season.

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A win over Jim Hill, a team that thumped Vicksburg 46-6 earlier in the season, would be exactly what the Vikings need to go into the offseason with a big boost.

“It’s a credit to them,” Morgan said. “They’ve come back to work and we’ve had a good week of practice. They’re high-character young men and it says a lot when you come back after losing to your rival and you could easily shut it down. But they have that embedded in them that they’re going to fight. I’ve been nothing but pleased with our guys. We know our players have given us everything we’ve got. It’s not an effort factor by any means.”

One thing the Vikings need to improve on is their passing game. Quarterback Chase Ladd, making his final start in Viking Stadium, has struggled in recent weeks. He completed only 3 of 12 passes for six yards against Vicksburg to cap an October Ladd would rather forget.

After throwing for 281 yards and five touchdowns in a win over Greenville-Weston on Sept. 30, Ladd has completed just 31.4 percent of his passes and has thrown three interceptions with no touchdowns.

If Ladd could get the passing game going again, the already-successful WC running game would find even more rushing lanes. Aaron Stamps rushed for 152 yards and Greg King and Curtis Ross rushed for 43 apiece in the loss to Vicksburg.

“Our run game picked up. All four backs ran the ball successfully,” Morgan said. “But the past few weeks, we’ve been ineffective throwing the football. We’ve got to find a way to get Kourey (Davis) some more touches. We just need to settle down at the quarterback position, regroup. The plays are there. We’ve just got to make them.”

But Jim Hill won’t be an easy mark despite a less-than stellar 2-8, 1-5 record. Coached by John Jennings, who played with Morgan at Mississippi State, the Tigers will present a tough challenge for a WC defense that has struggled against the run. With six sophomores starting, WC’s defense has endured a trial by fire.

The key will be containing a pair of strong tailbacks. Zackary Tidwell, who has rushed for 1,025 yards and 10 touchdowns, shredded Vicksburg for 190 yards and three of those scores. He also gashed Clinton’s defense for 140 yards.

While Tidwell is more of a speedy slasher, Marjarvis McGee is a burly bowling ball at 5-foot-6 and 225 pounds. He has rushed for 947 yards and six touchdowns this season, including 134 yards and two scores against Vicksburg.

But the pair aren’t the only threat. Wideout Fred Brown, a 6-foot-3 matchup nightmare, has seven catches for 114 yards and three touchdowns this season.

The good news is that Jim Hill’s defense has been weak against the run and the pass, yielding 28.9 points per game.

“They have a strong running game,” Morgan said. “They’ve got a special athlete at wideout, Fred Brown, who committed to Mississippi State. I expect a dogfight. We want to send our seniors out on a positive note.”