Vikings summer practice period ends

Published 9:16 am Thursday, July 2, 2015

Warren Central quarterback Jesse Wilson hands the ball off to Jeremy Lewis during the team’s spring game in May. Wilson, a rising junior, has taken the reins as the team’s starting quarterback this summer.

Warren Central quarterback Jesse Wilson hands the ball off to Jeremy Lewis during the team’s spring game in May. Wilson, a rising junior, has taken the reins as the team’s starting quarterback this summer.

In a world where 7-on-7 camps and tournaments dominate the landscape, Warren Central is taking a different approach.

The Vikings only played one 7-on-7 tournament this summer — which they won — and instead opted for a more traditional approach to the MHSAA’s summer practice period that ends this week.

Coach Josh Morgan said WC has focused more on conditioning and light practices that provide ample opportunity for coaching and learning.

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“A lot of times you get caught up in trying to make all these 7-on-7 tournaments and you’re just buzzing through games,” Morgan said. “They’re trying to hurry it up, and you’re not getting to coach. You’re not getting to tell a kid what he’s doing wrong. We chose that approach, and we feel good about it.”

It doesn’t hurt that the Vikings were able to cram nearly a summer’s worth of 7-on-7 games into one day last week at a camp at Hinds Community College.

WC played 14 games between the varsity and junior varsity squads and finished with a combined record of 11-3. The varsity won seven of its eight games, including the championship game against Meridian.

“It was a good way to finish,” Morgan said. “Any time you go to something like that you’re trying to get better, but you’re also trying to win it.”

Although they’ve skipped most of the 7-on-7 schedule, Morgan and his staff have still included it in their own practices. It’s helped generate some chemistry between junior quarterback Jesse Wilson and a revamped corps of receivers.

Seniors Larry Ferguson and Miraculous Powers combined for 42 receptions and seven touchdowns last season, but both were largely secondary receivers in the offensive scheme. They’ll take on a much bigger role this year as the primary threats.

“We’ve got to take big roles this year, and I told Jesse he’s got to do the same thing,” Ferguson said. “(Class) 6A is the toughest division to compete in. Everybody is stepping up, because we don’t have everybody looking for us to be the leaders of Warren Central, so we’ve got to step up.”

That’s true for all of the Vikings. There are nearly 120 players currently on the roster and plenty of starting positions up for grabs.

More than a dozen starters graduated from last year’s team. The defense was especially gutted, but Morgan said the linebackers and secondary played well in the Hinds tournament.

“There’s going to be a lot of new faces, especially on the back end and in our linebacking corps. It was good to see them compete and make plays, and be where they were supposed to be,” Morgan said. “We didn’t have a lot of busts. These are job interviews. That’s the way we approached it.”

Morgan said he expects the roster to get pared down to 90 or 100 players by the time the season starts Aug. 21 at home against Wayne County in the Red Carpet Bowl. Preseason practice begins Aug. 3, and there’s a jamboree game Aug. 14 at Germantown.

In the meantime, the extra depth has allowed the Vikings to run as many as five teams in and out during practice. The players have all kept coming back, too, which might make for some tough roster decisions in a few weeks.

It’s a problem, however, that Morgan is thrilled to have.

“We’ve had great participation. It’s mandatory that our kids make a certain amount of workouts, and they’ve responded well to that,” Morgan said. “We’ve got a lot on the roster, but they’ve all been accountable. That’s what we wanted to see. They made it all in and they’re doing the right things.”


About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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