Warren Central heads to Madison Central for game with big implications

Published 9:24 am Thursday, October 8, 2015

And now, it’s time for the main event.

Or one of them, at least.

Warren Central (5-1, 2-0 Region 2-6A) goes on the road to play Madison Central (4-3, 1-1) Friday. It’s a game with major playoff implications, but also just the first of three that fall into that category for WC this month. It’ll play Clinton on Oct. 23 and Starkville on Oct. 30.

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With so many big games on the horizon, Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said there’s little choice but to adhere to the old cliché of “one game at a time.”

“It’s a big month, just because the majority of our district games are in this month, but we’re focusing on this game. It’s the next one and another playoff game,” Morgan said. “We’re going to play this game, and whatever happens we’ll go from there. All of our concentration is on this ride, no doubt about it.”

Looking at the big picture, Friday’s game is huge for both sides. Warren Central, Clinton and Starkville are all 2-0 in Region 2-6A, so a win for Warren Central could almost guarantee a playoff berth. It would also keep it in line to host a playoff game. Warren Central likely will need to win at least two of its three big October games to finish first or second in the region.

For Madison Central, the stakes are higher. It already has a loss to Clinton and another would almost certainly ensure it will not finish higher than third or fourth. The fourth-place team in Region 2-6A goes on the road to face the Region 1-6A champion — most likely top-ranked South Panola — in the first round of the playoffs.

“This game is huge,” Warren Central senior H-back Liam Hopson said. “There’s so many playoff implications to it. This is definitely the biggest game of the season. We have to take it like it’s the game of our lives.”

Warren Central has won five straight games since losing its opener to Wayne County. Madison Central started 3-0, but has lost three of its last four — to South Panola, Clinton and Louisiana powerhouse West Monroe.

In its fast start, Madison had wins over Class 6A No. 3 Brandon and Class 5A No. 2 Oxford. Those quality wins, Morgan said, are more indicative of the challenge the Vikings will face on Friday than the more recent losses.

“They’re a good team,” Morgan said. “When your losses come to South Panola, Clinton and West Monroe, we’re not getting caught up in that.”

Besides this year’s postseason implications, there are also bragging rights at stake. Warren Central won last year’s meeting 16-14, on a last-play touchdown, to snap an eight-game losing streak against the Jaguars.

That win provided a boost to Warren Central’s status on the statewide scene, and perhaps a shot in the arm to a rivalry that had become one-sided.

Despite a number of close games over the past decade, Madison Central emerged as a perennial state championship contender while WC’s star faded for a time. The annual early-October clash became a circled date for the Vikings and just another game for the Jaguars.

“Sometimes I feel like to them it’s not (a rivalry), but to us it’s huge,” Hopson said. “I love playing Madison Central. I love getting an opportunity to compete and play against those guys.”

Warren Central at Madison Central

Friday, 7 p.m.

Radio: 105.5 FM

Online: For live scoring updates Friday night, visit Facebook.com/thevicksburgpost and Twitter.com/vicksburgpost

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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