WC plays Callaway, and waiting game

Published 9:07 am Thursday, November 5, 2015

When Warren Central hits the field Friday night, the outcome of its game will mean a lot more to other teams than to itself.

That hardly makes it meaningless, though.

The Vikings (8-2, 5-1 Region 2-6A) can’t improve their playoff standing by beating Callaway (5-6, 1-5) in the regular-season finale at North Jackson Field. They’ll finish second in Region 2-6A and host a playoff game if Starkville beats Clinton, and be third and go on the road if Clinton wins.

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With that in mind, WC coach Josh Morgan said, the focus this week is on regaining some momentum heading into the playoffs and learning from the mistakes that cost it so dearly in a 28-10 loss to Starkville last week.

“It’s not a bad situation at all. We worked hard to get in this situation. We’re disappointed we didn’t win our district, but there’s lessons to be learned from it,” Morgan said. “Disappointing as it is, if we’ll learn from this and fix it, and do things better, it’ll give us a chance to hit the restart button before we get in these playoffs.”

Warren Central had won eight games in a row before losing to No. 2 Starkville, in a game in which it inflicted as many wounds on itself as its opponent did. The Vikings:

• Had seven penalties for 84 yards in the first half.

• Lost a fumble on a punt return that led to a Starkville touchdown, and later threw an interception deep inside Starkville territory.

• Had a turnover negated by a 15-yard facemask penalty, then allowed Starkville to score on fourth-and-2 later in the drive.

• After cutting a 21-0 deficit to 21-10 early in the fourth quarter, lost a fumble at the Starkville 10-yard line. Starkville scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive.

“As a football team, we played one good quarter,” Morgan said, “and you can’t do that against a good football team and win. We have to put together four quarters of our A-game to win a game of that magnitude.”

The good news for the Vikings is that Callaway seems like the perfect opponent against which to regain lost mojo.

Callaway has lost five of its last six and scored a total of 20 points in those five losses. It’s been shut out twice. Morgan said the Chargers have several talented athletes, but success or failure will wholly depend on how well the Vikings bounce back.

“We’re going to have to have a good week of getting back to being ourselves and finish it on a positive note, and get ready for our playoff push,” Morgan said.

Where that push will take them will be decided in Starkville. If Starkville beats Clinton and Warren Central finishes second in Region 2-6A, WC will host either Olive Branch (6-4) or Tupelo (5-5) in a first-round game next week.

If Clinton wins, Warren Central will go on the road to play Columbus (7-3).

The difference between those two positions is huge — a long road trip to play a strong team or a home game against a struggling one. However it plays out, Morgan said the Vikings will roll with it.

“Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen, and whatever’s thrown at us we have to handle it. We’ve worked way too hard and had too good of a year. We’re going to handle it and truck on,” he said. “We’re in the playoffs, we have a chance to be the No. 2 or No. 3, and we’re going to be proud of it. When all that washes out after Friday we’re going to have an edge and chip on our shoulder like we always do, and be happy to go wherever we go.”

Warren Central at Callaway

Friday, 7 p.m.

Radio: 105.5 FM

Online: For live scoring updates on Friday night, visit Facebook.com/thevicksburgpost or 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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