Going to WC-Starkville? Better start walking now

Published 9:00 am Thursday, October 29, 2015

There’s a lot of ways to measure the magnitude of a football game — records, rankings, rivalries — but to me, the easiest way is by counting the steps. The bigger the game, the farther you have to walk to get to the stadium.

There have been games at Vicksburg High where I’ve had to park a quarter-mile away near the city’s recreation department building, and games at Warren Central where I’ve started my trek from the ATV dealership on Highway 27.

This Friday night, I might need to invest in a good pair of hiking boots because I’ll probably be walking in from Utica.

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Warren Central is hosting Starkville Friday at 7 p.m. with a chance to clinch its first region championship since 2004. Some people have called it the biggest game in a decade for WC, and it’s hard to argue.

The Vikings earned a piece of the Region 2-6A championship two years ago by beating Starkville at home, but it wasn’t by enough points to win the title outright. They finished third in a three-way tiebreaker with Starkville and Madison Central.

Things are much more clear-cut this time. Win, and they’re the champs. It doesn’t get easier than that, even if they have to go through the team that’s been ranked No. 2 in the state for most of the season.

It wasn’t all that long ago that big games like this were the norm at Viking Stadium. Warren Central was a Mississippi powerhouse for more than 30 years before hitting a major slump in the 2000s. Things started to rebound three or four years ago, and now a new generation of players, students and fans are getting a chance to write new chapters in the school’s proud tradition.

This will be the third consecutive season in which Warren Central has reached Halloween weekend with at least seven wins and the chance to earn a home playoff game. It hasn’t sealed the deal yet, but it feels like this might be the year. This year’s Vikings have a strange “it” factor and have shown they can play with anyone, in any style of game. There’s no reason they can’t knock off Starkville and surge into the playoffs as a state championship contender.

It’s all very refreshing to see — even if it means having to walk a long, long way to see it.

Ernest Bowker is a sports writer. He can be reached at 601-619-7120, or via email at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

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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