Vikings, Gators trying to clean up mistakes

Published 7:55 am Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Other than living in the same city, Warren Central and Vicksburg High don’t really have a lot in common this season. One is a Class 6A championship contender, while the other is facing a rebuilding year in Class 5A.

As they prepare to play each other this week, however, they’re coming into their annual rivalry game from the same angle. Both are shaking off mistake-filled losses.

It’s too early for either team to panic, but both are eager to move on to the Warren County Super Bowl a bit more than usual. The Vikings and Gators will meet for the 38th time Friday at 7 p.m. at Memorial Staidum.

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“We’re anxious to fix our mistakes. And of course Vicksburg is always special. But we’ve got a lot to fix with Warren Central and be better. That’ll be our main focus right now,” Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said.

Morgan’s Vikings had a chance to knock off defending Class 6A champion Pearl derailed by a steady stream of miscues.

Two fumbles led to a pair of Pearl touchdowns. They committed 12 penalties for 97 yards. Two touchdowns were wiped off the board because of penalties, and a pass interference call gave Pearl a key first down in the final minute that led to the game-winning touchdown in its 17-14 victory.

Afterward, Morgan was clearly frustrated by the calls that went against his team.

“I don’t know if they’re mistakes yet. I’ll have to watch tape,” he said.

Besides the calls, however, the Vikings did plenty of things wrong as they let an early 14-0 lead slip away. A fumble in the second quarter led to Pearl’s first touchdown, and a low and bobbled punt snap with a minute to go set up the game-winning drive.

There was also a 41-yard pass on the final play of the third quarter that led to a Pirates field goal, and a fumble that quickly short-circuited a promising drive.

“We did not finish well. We did not put them away,” Morgan said. “We allowed them to stay in the game and they made a play at the end. That’s on us. We’ve got to be better at doing that. We could have won it, but we lost it. And the reason we lost it is because we didn’t win it.”

Vicksburg, meanwhile, didn’t have nearly as many what-ifs to ponder after losing 48-0 at Clinton. Its mistakes were the kind typical of a young team playing a host of first-time starters, where bad technique or a lack of awareness led to big plays.

Clinton quarterback Hunter Hulsey threw three touchdown passes in the first half as Clinton raced to a 31-0 lead.

“The mistakes that were made are things the coaches are emphasizing, and they’re going to see it,” Vicksburg coach Tim Hughes said. “There’s going to be those teaching points.”

Hughes added that there were plenty of things to be happy about despite the lopsided score. Not surprisingly, it was mostly the things that didn’t show up on the scoreboard. He was happy with the way the Gators played hard even while being down by multiple scores late in the game.

He praised quarterback Levi Wyatt for completing some difficult passes in the second half, and running back Tacarie Stewart for shouldering a heavy workload while playing nearly every down on offense and defense.

“Tacarie played 95 percent of the snaps on defense, and then turned right around and toted the ball a lot,” Hughes said. “If he had fresh legs, some of those runs might have been scores.”

Friday, 7 p.m.
Radio: 105.5 FM (Warren Central) and 1490 AM/107.7 FM (Vicksburg)

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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