Warren Central struggles in spring game loss to Brandon

Published 10:12 am Friday, May 20, 2016

BRANDON — The final score of a spring game is never as important as how it wound up that way. That’s why Warren Central left the field Thursday night shaking its head and contemplating what it must do in the three months to improve.

Brandon rolled up nearly 400 yards of total offense, scored touchdowns on four of its first six possessions, and beat Warren Central 28-7 in their spring game.

Warren Central struggled to slow Brandon’s offense, and never got much going against its defense. The Vikings turned it over twice in the red zone and their only touchdown came on a 26-yard run by DeMarcus Jones following a muffed punt in the third quarter.

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“It’s a spring game, so there’s going to be some mess-ups. We had a few goods. We had some more bads. We had some new people that haven’t started that are out here and starting their first spring game, so they just had to get the feel of it,” said safety Kamren Ellis, who had an interception in the second quarter. “We started off slow. I guess we couldn’t bring it back up in time to make it a better score. We’ve got some things to work on, but I think we can get there.”

Warren Central’s struggles had several causes. It was trying to work in a number of new starters along both the offensive and defensive lines, and give playing time to other newcomers at other positions.

The lack of chemistry among the various pieces, players said, led to a team that was out of sync all night. Five of Brandon’s eight drives lasted eight plays or more.

Brandon quarterback Brady Anderson completed 13 of 27 passes for 177 yards and also ran for a touchdown, while running back Vincent Butler had 60 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

Offensively, the Vikings surrendered five sacks and committed two turnovers.

Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said the nature of the spring game also contributed to the team’s struggles. With no game film or scouting report to help form a game plan going in, a lot of it was developed on the fly.

“We didn’t scout them or anything. It’s kind of a weird deal. We couldn’t really make adjustments,” Morgan said. “We were bad on third down. That’s when you win football games. All of that is coaching mistakes, putting them in better positions and things like that, that normally you can do when you study a team.”

Offensively, the Vikings either bogged down or self-destructed whenever they found success.

In the second quarter, Ellis intercepted Anderson and returned it 65 yards to the Brandon 12-yard line. On the next play, Jones had the ball stripped and Brandon’s Schdarren Archie recovered.

A similar scenario occurred in the fourth quarter. After catching a long pass to move the ball to the Brandon 20, Jones fumbled on the next play.

Warren Central’s final drive also ended inside the red zone as time expired.

“The guys just have to get used to the feeling, especially the guys that haven’t been playing with us for a while,” WC quarterback Jesse Wilson said. “It was just us, with mistakes like holding the ball and all that. You just have to go to practice. Don’t forget about your mistake, just move on to the next play and do better.”

Although things didn’t generally go the Vikings’ way, there were a few highlights. They forced four turnovers— Ellis, Caleb Wilson and Zachaeus Doss each had an interception — and did finally start to move the ball late.

Jones caught two long passes from Wilson in the fourth quarter and finished with 175 combined yards rushing and receiving while serving as the team’s primary running back.

Wilson was 4-of-11 passing for 112 yards, and added 38 rushing yards. He was sacked four times for minus-31 yards, which tamped down his rushing total.

The Vikings will now take about two weeks off before returning in June for offseason workouts. The spring game was largely forgettable, but the key moving forward is not to forget it. Instead, they’ll try to learn from the mistakes and figure out where they need to get better, they said.

“We got a lot of reps. We got a lot of boys in. We got to see us in live action. We’ll go back and watch the tape and see more of where we are,” Morgan said. “I would have liked to have been sharper in a lot of areas. Most of the mistakes we made tonight are very fixable and coachable mistakes. That’s why we played this game.”

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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