Playoffs are all about seizing the opportunity
Published 8:55 am Thursday, November 10, 2016
It’s go time. The high school football playoffs are upon us.
Warren Central opens the Class 6A playoffs Friday night at South Panola, while Vicksburg heads to Lake Cormorant in the opening round of the 5A bracket. Both Warren County teams have an opportunity to do something special this season, but that’s all it is — an opportunity.
When it comes to postseason success, nothing is a given. Flaws are exposed and bad breaks happen. One sprained ankle at the wrong time can destroy a great season. All you can do is put yourself in a position to win, make sure you don’t mess it up too badly, and then wait for — or make — the breaks to fall your way.
Both local teams have done the former. Now they need to do the latter.
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Before the season, I predicted that Vicksburg (9-3) would win at least one playoff game. They won’t have it easy against Lake Cormorant (8-4), but in many ways it’s a favorable matchup.
They both have a lot in common, most importantly the lack of a championship pedigree. Vicksburg hasn’t won a playoff game since 2008. Lake Cormorant, which opened in 2009, has never won one. That means somebody’s going to get a win that catapults their program to the next level.
Warren Central (9-2), meanwhile, might be able to put a stake in the South Panola (7-5) dynasty.
South Panola has won nine state titles in 13 years, but lost in the first round of the playoffs last year and struggled out of the gate this season. Head coach Lance Pogue announced he’s retiring at the end of the season, and there’s bound to be big changes in Batesville in 2017.
Warren Central is a program on the way up. This is the type of game that, if the Vikings win it, they might point to in five years as the one that pushed them into the stratosphere. It has the potential to be a passing of the torch moment.
Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said success like South Panola has enjoyed “doesn’t just go away overnight,” and he’s right. South Panola is a thoroughbred program that knows how to win. The Vikings are going to have to go into Batesville and take the torch, not have it handed to them.
Both Warren County teams are ready to do that. The playoffs begin this week, but I’m thinking they’re far from over.
Ernest Bowker is a sports writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org