Vikings’ rushing attack mowing down opponents

Published 8:06 am Monday, August 29, 2016

Multi-faceted. Running back by committee. A three-headed monster.

There’s a lot of ways to describe Warren Central’s rushing attack this season, but the simplest is a single word — effective.

Running backs Joe Shorter and Demarcus Jones each had more than 100 yards in Friday’s 28-21 win over Pearl. Quarterback Jesse Wilson led the team in rushing in a season-opening win over Oak Grove. Helped by a strong offensive line, the Vikings have rushed for 552 yards in two games and are forging an identity as an offensive juggernaut.

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“It’s just our offensive line helping us out,” Shorter said. “Getting the blocks for us and getting a crease for the running backs.”

Each of the Vikings’ “Big Three” runners have staked out a role in the offense.

Wilson led the team in rushing yardage against Oak Grove, and is a threat both in the running and passing game. He hasn’t run for a touchdown yet, but has thrown three TD passes.

Jones is the big-play threat. He’s only carried the ball 12 times, but seven of those have gone for 15 yards or more. He also caught a 23-yard touchdown pass against Oak Grove.

Shorter, meanwhile, has emerged as the workhorse through the first two games. He carried the ball a team-high 21 times for 113 yards and three touchdowns against Pearl, and also tied Wilson for the team lead in carries against Oak Grove.

Shorter is similar in stature to Jones, but thus far has played the part of set up man to allow Jones to knock down the tired defense at the end.

“We’re very versatile with our running backs. We feel like we have three, four guys, including the quarterback, that can run the football and do different things with,” Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said. “It keeps the defense off-balance. They don’t know where it’s coming from. And it all starts with our offensive line. Having those guys executing their blocks, we can find a running lane behind them.”

While the running game has been the offensive engine for the Vikings, they’ve hardly subscribed to the philosophy of three yards and a cloud of dust. They’ve had 26 plays of 10 yards or more in the first two games, with 12 of those going for 20 yards or more.

In the second quarter against Pearl, after a fumble led to the Pirates’ first touchdown and a 7-7 tie, the Vikings showed off both their explosiveness and versatility. Jones ripped off a 30-yard run, and then Wilson completed a 34-yard pass to Shonterrance Walton on the next play. Shorter punched in a 1-yard run to complete a quick four-play scoring drive, and Warren Central never trailed again.

In the third quarter, the Vikings zipped down the field on a three-play scoring drive — a 20-yard run by Jones, and runs of 12 and 16 yards by Shorter. Later on, Jones had runs of 30 and 40 yards to move the ball into Pearl territory. Neither led to points, but did help the Vikings burn some clock when they had the lead.

Walton caught seven passes for 139 yards and a TD against Pearl.

That, Morgan said, is what he’s looking for — balance.

“We like to be as balanced as we can,” Morgan said. “We leaned on them a lot. We want to be a complete football team. That’s what we’re trying to get to. We want to have a lot of strengths. Instead of strengths and weaknesses, we’re trying to get to where we have nothing but strengths. They have been very good for us, and setting us up to be in a good situation.”


Warren Central at Vicksburg

Friday, 7 p.m.

Radio: 105.5 FM (WC) and 1490 AM (Vicksburg)

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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