Warren Central resets its Region 2-6A hopes against Greenville
Published 7:00 am Friday, September 29, 2017
In the rugged, dog-eat-dog world of Region 2-6A football, there isn’t a lot of margin for error. Realistically, a team can lose once and still have a chance to win the region championship or finish second and host a first-round playoff game. Two losses means playing for third or fourth place, and three likely puts them out of the playoff picture altogether.
Warren Central took its one loss last week. Now it faces a long, hard road that it must traverse perfectly for six weeks in order to finish atop the standings. The first step is this Friday at 7 p.m., in the homecoming game against Greenville at Viking Stadium.
“Our approach has got to be week to week,” Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said. “We’re going to slow this thing down and focus on one week. We have got to start peaking right now, and it’s got to start this week. The good thing is we’re at home and have another opportunity to go 1-1 in the district.”
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Warren Central (3-2, 1-1) appears to be one of many state championship contenders in Class 6A. Fifteen teams have reached the halfway point of the regular season with records of 3-2 or better, and only Pearl, Tupelo and Horn Lake have made it this far without a loss.
The Vikings’ 38-31 loss to Northwest Rankin in last week’s Region 2-6A opener, however, was a blow. Warren Central still must face Madison Central (4-1), Starkville (5-1), Provine (4-1) and defending Class 6A champion Clinton (2-3) in the next six weeks.
One of the few soft spots in the schedule comes this week against Greenville (1-4, 1-0), but Morgan cautioned that even this game is not as easy as it seems. The Hornets’ four losses have been by a total of 30 points, including a 22-20 defeat against South Panola on Sept. 1.
Senior quarterback Tayvon Littlejohn has thrown for 1,398 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, and added 233 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He’s thrown it 158 times and, as a team, the Hornets have only run it 55 times. That will provide a challenge for a WC secondary that allowed four long touchdown passes and 291 yards through the air last week.
“This game can’t get here fast enough. Greenville is going to be a challenge in some areas we need work on, like throwing the football and stopping big plays,” Morgan said. “We’re just anxious to learn from our mistakes and play, and to get to 1-1.”
Historically, Greenville has not provided much opposition to Warren Central. The teams have played 24 times since 1981, and Greenville’s only victory was by a score of 8-3 in 2010. Warren Central has scored at least 35 points in all six meetings since then.
Greenville has shown some fight the past two years, however, by scoring 36 points in 2015 and 34 points in 2016. Warren Central scored 63 and 56, respectively, to keep either game from ever getting close but Morgan was well aware they’ll have to score early and often to make that the case again this year.
“We need to start fast on offense and control the tempo of the game,” he said. “Which means put together quality drives that end in scores. Defensively, we have to get off the field on third down. Three of (Greenville’s) losses have been by two points. They can score with the best of them.”
So can Warren Central. It has scored 28 points or more in three of its five games so far and rushed for a season-high 325 yards against Northwest Rankin. Two players had more than 100 yards — Fred Barnum (122) and Corey Wilson Jr. (107) — and a third, Anfernee Funchess, had 95.
The Vikings had had one 100-yard rusher in their first four games.
“We did some great stuff. We had two 100-yard rushers and almost a third. We handled adversity and played great defense in some situations, but we were not consistent on defense,” Morgan said. “Leading up to that, we had two sharp weeks of offensive practice. We’re close offensively. We just have to continue to get better.”
FRIDAY’S AREA GAMES
All games start at 7 p.m.
Greenville at Warren Central (Radio: 105.5 FM)
Claiborne Christian at PCA (Radio: 104.5 FM)
Manchester at St. Aloysius (Radio: 101.3 FM)
Vicksburg at Neshoba Central (Radio: 107.7 FM)
Jefferson County at Port Gibson
Clinton at Provine
Central Hinds at Cathedral
Riverdale at Tallulah Academy
Briarfield Academy at Tensas Academy
Prentiss Christian at Rebul Academy
Sharkey-Issaquena at Delta Academy
Metairie Park Country Day at Madison Parish (La.)