Warren Central kicks off season vs. Oxford in Red Carpet Bowl

Published 8:00 am Friday, August 17, 2018

Warren Central has played 615 football games against 74 different opponents in the past 52 years.
Friday will still be a first.

The Vikings will face Oxford in the first half of the annual Red Carpet Bowl doubleheader Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Vicksburg High’s Memorial Stadium. Vicksburg and Clarksdale will play game two at 8 p.m.

This will be the first-ever meeting between Warren Central and Oxford, two perennial powers with some mutual ties. Oxford’s athletic director and former coach, Johnny Hill, is the uncle of Warren Central head coach Josh Morgan and offensive coordinator Rob Morgan.

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“There’s not too many teams we can say we haven’t played, but that’s one of them,” Josh Morgan said with a chuckle. “It’s an exciting time. It’s a new team, playing an unfamiliar opponent that has a very good program, in the Red Carpet Bowl with all the pageantry that goes with that. It’s a fun time.”

Distance and size have likely kept Warren Central and Oxford apart over the years. The schools are 200 miles apart and, until last year, always played in different classifications. Oxford and Vicksburg High have crossed paths in the playoffs, as well as in last year’s Red Carpet Bowl, but there was little reason for either Oxford or Warren Central to make a long trip for a non-region game.

The Red Carpet Bowl matchup changed that, and could even be the first of two meetings between the Chargers and Vikings this year. They could potentially face each other in the Class 6A playoffs down the road. Oxford has won eight or more games in six consecutive seasons, and Warren Central’s run of four straight nine-win seasons is the longest active streak in Class 6A.

“They’re a good program. The last two years they won eight games. We’ve got a lot of respect for them. They’ve got some big-time players,” Morgan said. “They’ve got most of their line returning, and that’s where you win a lot of football games. Their littlest guy is 6-5 and 275.”

Warren Central is no slouch on the line, either. Three starters — George Owens, Reed Buys and Nick Strong — are back to power an offense that averaged 214.2 rushing yards per game last season.
Owens is a three-year starter at right guard, and Buys is a Division I prospect at right tackle. With them leading the way, the Vikings piled up 124 rushing yards in two quarters during last week’s jamboree against Terry.

“Warren Central is a really good team,” Oxford coach Chris Cutcliffe told the Oxford Eagle. “They’re a very experienced team and have a good number of guys back. They played in and won a bunch of big games last season. We know that we’re in for a huge challenge this week from them.”

Warren Central’s jamboree was a mixed bag, Morgan said, that left plenty of room for improvement. The defense shut out Terry and held it to 49 total yards, and the running game was impressive, but the passing game struggled and the Vikings had three high snaps and a fumble that short circuited promising drives.

Morgan chalked that up to playing some younger, more inexperienced players to give them game experience as well as a bad day by some veterans. It wasn’t enough to be overly concerned about, he said, but definitely caught his attention.

“I thought we ran the ball very well. We could have been better in the kicking game. Our defense played pretty good for the most part, and our quarterback play was not very good. We have to get better there,” Morgan said. “We did a lot of good things, but there was a lot of room to improve.”

x-5:30 p.m. – Warren Central vs. Oxford (at Vicksburg; Radio: 105.5 FM)
7 p.m. – St. Aloysius at Leake Academy (Radio: 101.3 FM)
7 p.m. – Columbus Christian at Porter’s Chapel Academy (Radio: 104.5 FM)
7 p.m. – Central Hinds at Adams County Christian
7 p.m. – Sharkey-Issaquena Academy at Hebron Christian
7 p.m. – Briarfield Academy at Calvary Christian Academy
7 p.m. – Tallulah Academy at Delta Academy
7 p.m. – McComb at Port Gibson
x-8 p.m. – Clarksdale at Vicksburg (Radio: 107.7 FM)
x-Red Carpet Bowl, at Vicksburg High school. Tickets are $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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