Vikings enter season, RCB with momentum

Published 11:25 am Friday, August 17, 2012

After winning just one game in 2011, a feeling of resurgence is permeating Warren Central’s football program.

The Vikings beat Ridgeland — a 10-game winner and a Class 5A playoff team in 2011 — in a spring game. They followed that with a win over MAIS Class AAA champion Jackson Academy and MAIS Class AA playoff contender Lamar School in a jamboree last week.

Now the Vikings are ready for a game that counts when they host Brandon tonight at Viking Stadium in the 50th Red Carpet Bowl. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m.

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Warren Central coach Josh Morgan is entering his third season and said many of the program’s problems — like a lack of depth, size and strength — were addressed in the offseason, spring and the first two weeks of preseason practice.

“We’re pleased with what we’ve done to this point,” Morgan said. “We are better physically. We’ve worked night and day to improve our strength and depth.”

The Vikings showed their improvement by beating Jackson Academy 14-0 last Friday in Jackson.

“We were very energized and a had a lot of spirit, and getting to play somebody helped get a read on our mistakes,” Morgan said.

Brandon presents a sterner test. The Bulldogs have 100 players on their roster and great depth on both the offensive and defensive lines.

Brandon went 8-5 last year, including a 47-13 rout of Vicksburg in the Red Carpet Bowl. The Bulldogs return nine starters on offense, led by tackle David Mahaffey, wide receiver Dylan Knott and running back Davien Tillis. Sophomore Garner Minchew takes over at quarterback and will direct a fast-paced offense.

“A big concern for us is they like to play at a fast tempo because they want to see how many plays they can run at you,” Morgan said. “Another thing for us is we’ve yet to cover a live kickoff or punt in a game situation.”

Warren Central hopes to counter Brandon’s offense by controlling the ball behind a revamped offensive line. Senior Gary Williams returns to the starting lineup at tackle after suffering a knee injury that sidelined him for much of last season and this spring. Tevin Bailey and Willie Thomas will take over at the guard spots, while Reagan Fleming is the center. Sophomore Derrick Dotson is the other tackle.

The Vikings likely will start junior Carlisle Koestler at quarterback and then work in Hunter Bell. Their primary mission will be to get the ball to standout wide receiver Kourey Davis.

Davis had a huge spring game against Ridgeland, returning an interception for a touchdown and scoring on a 65-yard touchdown pass. He had 27 receptions for 659 yards last season, and set the single-game school record for receiving yards and touchdowns in a win over Greenville-Weston.

Returning starting linebacker Jade Pollock is back to the lead defense, which will also have Davis and Tre Prentiss to anchor the secondary.