Arrows next for Vikings

Published 11:27 am Friday, October 19, 2012

For a month now, Warren Central’s players and coaches have had the mindset that that particular week’s game is the biggest of the season.

The message hasn’t worn thin, because it’s the truth.

For the third straight Friday, the Vikings will play a game tonight that’s crucial to their playoff hopes. Beat homecoming opponent Clinton, and they’re in the postseason for the first time since 2009. Lose, and they risk falling into a multiple-team tie and losing control of their destiny.

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“It is the truth. That’s what comes with winning the next one. It just gets bigger and bigger,” WC coach Josh Morgan said. “This is a chance to be 4-1 and stay in the top half of the district, and beat one of our rivals. If we want to be able to control our destiny, this is the game we really need to win.”

Warren Central (4-4, 3-1 Region 2-6A) has successfully run the gauntlet so far. Despite a loss to Madison Central that likely cost it a shot at the region championship, WC has beaten playoff contenders Northwest Rankin and Murrah, along with seventh-place Greenville-Weston.

A win over Clinton would give the Vikings a two-game lead over its three main contenders with two games left in the regular season, as well as the head-to-head tiebreaker — in effect, ensuring WC shouldn’t finish worse than third in the region.

WC center Reagan Fleming said clinching a playoff berth would be a cherished prize at the end of a three-year long tunnel. Warren Central’s four wins this season are one more than it had in 2010 and 2011 combined.

“We’ve been in rebuilding mode for the last couple of years. It’s good to know we can get a playoff spot. It feels like the the last few years of working is finally paying off,” Fleming said.

Like Warren Central, Clinton (3-5, 2-2) has been in must-win mode for several weeks already. The Arrows stumbled to a 1-5 start that included losses to Madison Central and Jim Hill in their first two region games, but have gotten back into the playoff chase with back-to-back victories.

Quarterback Cale Luke ran for 140 yards in a 17-15 win over Northwest Rankin last week. That victory put Clinton into fourth place in the region, and it can move into third with a victory over WC.

“From week one to now, they are much improved,” Morgan said. “They won two district games back-to-back, and beat a good Murrah team. They’ve got some things going and seem to be improved each week.”