After tearing his ACL, Vikings RB Wilson back to running hard

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, August 15, 2018

On the first play of Warren Central’s preseason jamboree, Corey Wilson, Jr., came in motion from the left side of the formation. He took a handoff in stride, carefully picked his way through his blockers, and gracefully loped down the field for a 16-yard gain.

For the Vikings and their fans, seeing last year’s leading rusher rip off a big run was a familiar sight. Seeing him do it this time was a refreshing one.

Wilson tore his ACL in Warren Central’s final game last season, a 28-26 loss to Madison Central in the second round of the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs. He spent the next seven months working to rehab his knee, and appears to be at full strength heading into the regular-season opener against Oxford.

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Warren Central will play the Chargers in the Red Carpet Bowl, at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Vicksburg High School’s Memorial Stadium.

“We did make five, take five earlier in the week and after that I was getting hit and I said it’s going to be a good season. I took rehab serious and I worked my tail off,” Wilson said. “I got cleared on June 10 and I was telling (coaches) that I was ready, and they were telling me to take my time. We were in one on ones and I was progressing and getting better every day.”

Wilson led the Vikings with 941 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns last season, to go along with 21 receptions for 163 yards and two TDs. He had four 100-yard games and scored in 11 of the team’s 13 games.

Wilson had six carries for 58 yards in the playoff game against Madison Central before his injury. He averaged 9.7 yards per carry that night, while the rest of the team gained only 3.0 yards per carry.

“He’s the guy that puts points on the board for us. He’s a big part of what we do, and a great teammate,” Warren Central head coach Josh Morgan said.

The injury, naturally, cast a shadow of doubt across Wilson’s mind — for a couple of days, he said with a laugh.

“It’s not the old ACL injury. Now they have technology that shows you where it’s strengthening. But in the beginning, when I first had surgery, I said I didn’t want to play football again. I just had to be a man about it,” Wilson said.

The months of hard work culminated last Friday with the preseason jamboree against Terry. The varsity teams only played two quarters and the result — a 6-0 Warren Central victory — didn’t count in the standings. It was, however, a big milestone for both Wilson and the team as they try to end a 24-year state championship drought.

Wilson finished with four carries for a team-high 49 yards. In addition to his big run on the first play, he ripped off a 23-yarder on the final drive of the game that helped the Vikings get in position to kick a field goal. He also had a 9-yard run on the first play of another scoring drive in the second quarter.

“We knew coming in that he wasn’t going to get a lot of reps. The ones he made, when he touched the ball he made things happen. That was really good to see,” Morgan said.

It was exactly what Wilson wanted to see, as well.

“It turned out how I wanted it to,” he said. “My linemen did well, so I just found a hole and hit it. Every hole I found open, I was just hitting them and running through.”

Friday, at Vicksburg High School

5:30 p.m. – Oxford vs. Warren Central
8 p.m. – Clarksdale vs. Vicksburg
• Advance tickets for the Red Carpet Bowl are on sale at Michel’s Music Downtown, River Outfitters/River Belles, 601 Sports, the Vicksburg Warren School District athletic office and local schools. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the gate, and are good for both games.

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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