Vikings focusing on game management, communication in jamboree

Published 8:00 am Thursday, August 9, 2018

Considering they’ve been working and building toward the 2018 season for eight months now, Warren Central’s football coaches have a pretty good handle on what players are going to be in what positions for next week’s Red Carpet Bowl against Oxford.

So, this week they’re focusing more on the little things.

The Vikings will host Terry in a preseason jamboree Friday at 6 p.m. Warren Central’s annual Meet the Vikings pep rally, scheduled for Thursday night, has been canceled because of the threat of bad weather.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Warren Central and Terry will play two quarters with the varsity and two more with the junior varsity. A handful of position battles still need to be settled, but Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said his team will use the jamboree more to acclimate itself to game-specific situations and preparations that can’t be replicated in practice.

“It’s kind of a hybrid week. It’s a big work week, but it also happens to be a game week,” Morgan said. “We will use it for us to build depth and consistency as a team. We’ll use it as a way to polish up the things we don’t see every day, like game operations and managing the game clock. You’ve got to see them when there’s actual referees out there and the quarterbacks are looking at the 25-second clock.”

Unlike next week, when the game counts in the standings and the Vikings will work up a full scouting report on Oxford, Morgan said little to no preparation is being done for this week’s opponent. Instead, Morgan and his counterpart at Terry, J.J. Plummer, briefed each other on their basic offensive and defensive schemes to allow more time to work with their own teams.

“We’ve communicated with one another and given each other an idea of what we’re going to run,” Morgan said. “Most teams play the jamboree against schools they’re comfortable with. The jamboree is all about getting better.”

Although most position battles were settled through the spring and summer, there are still a few things the Vikings need to see and sort out.

The quarterback position is the biggest question mark. Senior Antonio Thompson, a transfer from St. Aloysius, and junior Shane Lewis have been battling for the starting job for months. Morgan wasn’t yet ready to commit to one or the other as the starter, or to call it a two-quarterback system even if they split playing time.

“They’ve both done very well. We feel comfortable with both of them. They’ve both been getting better and are both good competitors and teammates. They both have gotten reps with the ones and twos. They’ve been good for each other,” Morgan said. “I’m not going to bind us to a situation. We’ll do what gives us the best chance to win that game.”

The jamboree isn’t likely to settle the quarterback battle, but it will help both Lewis and Thompson get their feet under them. Lewis missed the 2017 season with a back injury and hasn’t played since last year’s jamboree. Thompson sat out all of spring practice with an ankle injury.

Several other players, including running back Corey Wilson, also missed the spring game because of various injuries. Wilson was the Vikings’ leading rusher last season with 941 yards and 17 touchdowns. He suffered a torn ACL in a playoff loss to Madison Central.

Getting those players some live game action is important to having them ready for the opener, Morgan said.

“It’ll be good to see Antonio Thompson, Corey Wilson and (linebacker) Malik Sims on the field. They all had some injuries that kept them out in the spring,” Morgan said. “We were able to go full pads on Monday and had a full scrimmage. The mental part of that is as important as anything, and they all handled it well. We look for all of those guys to be a full go.”

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.

email author More by Ernest