Vikings stunned by cancellation of annual local rivalry matchup

Published 11:10 am Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Warren Central coach Josh Morgan was trying to put the entire Vicksburg-Murrah brawl and its aftermath into perspective late Tuesday afternoon.

There will be no River City Classic against rival Vicksburg. It will be the first time since 1980 there will be no Warren Central-Vicksburg game.

The Mississippi High School Activities Association on Tuesday suspended more than 40 Vicksburg players in the wake of last week’s fight, leaving it unable to field a viable team. That handed Warren Central a 2-0 forfeit victory, ended Vicksburg’s five-game winning streak in the series and improved Warren Central’s record to 5-5 overall and 4-2 in Region 2-6A.

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Morgan said the scope of the Vicksburg-Murrah brawl goes beyond football. He expressed concern for his coaching colleague, Vicksburg’s Tavares Johnson Sr., who was injured in the fracas and had to be transported to River Region Medical Center with a concussion.

“You never want to see people get hurt.” Morgan said. “What happened with Coach Johnson was a scary thing. It’s also unfortunate players had to be suspended and lose the rest of their season. I hate it for both teams.”

Morgan said the lessons learned from the incident can be useful for his team.

“It goes back to the

discipline we stress with our players,” Morgan said. “We have a rules meeting before every season. Not being able to finish out your season is a pretty tough penalty. Things like fights happen in the heat of the moment, but you can’t let it affect your whole situation.”

About 20 of Murrah’s 72 players were suspended. That left Murrah (5-4, 2-3 Region 2-6A) enough after the suspensions to play this Friday’s scheduled game against Jim Hill. Murrah was declared ineligible for the Class 6A playoffs by the MHSAA with its ruling Tuesday.

Warren Central’s next game is Nov. 3 at Jim Hill (5-3, 3-2) in the regular season finale. Morgan said the Vikings will begin preparation for that game immediately.

“For us, we will go to work on Jim Hill starting (today),” Morgan said. “We’ll probably scout the Jim Hill-Murrah game Friday.”

The end of Vicksburg High’s season will have ripple effects beyond Warren County.

Vicksburg will also forfeit its season finale against Clinton next week. That means the Arrows (4-4, 3-2) have clinched a playoff berth.

Clinton will clinch the No. 2 seed in Region 2-6A if it beats Greenville Weston and Warren Central beats Jim Hill next week.

Warren Central is in the playoffs with a Northwest Rankin loss this week. That would make its game against Jim Hill for the No. 3 seed.

WC can also finish second in the region and host a playoff game if it beats Jim Hill and Greenville beats Clinton.

“What we really need is for Greenville-Weston to beat Clinton and give us a path to a No. 2 seed,” Morgan said. “Since we have the tiebreaker over Northwest Rankin and Murrah’s out, we should be no worse than fourth and we can now fight for at least third with a win at Jim Hill.”