Vikings not overlooking long-struggling Murrah as playoff race heats up

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, October 10, 2018

This is not unfamiliar territory for Warren Central. It is halfway through the difficult Region 2-6A schedule, with a loss or two on its record, and needing a strong final month to lock down a playoff berth.

The Vikings were here last year, and seemingly at some point in every season, in a league where fortunes and the playoff picture shift wildly from week to week.

While it’s familiar, that hardly means it’s comfortable.

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The Vikings (2-4, 1-2 Region 2-6A) head to Hughes Field in Jackson on Friday night to face Murrah (2-5, 1-2). It’s a region game that’s often been a gimme — Warren Central has won six in a row in the series, and 22 of 24 overall since 1991 — but still one it can’t afford to take for granted with its margin for error eliminated.

“It’s a district game. They all count the same. We’re only focused on this week and getting to 2-2 in the district,” Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said. “They’re a much-improved Murrah team and for us to have a shot at this, this game is a must.”

Warren Central’s Region 2-6A schedule is generally split into two halves. There are what are considered virtual playoff games against contenders Northwest Rankin, Madison Central, Clinton and Starkville, and then the “easy” games against perennial also-rans Murrah, Greenville and Provine. Murrah and Greenville have a total of three playoff appearances between them this century. Provine hasn’t made the playoffs since moving up to Class 6A in 2013.

Warren Central has already lost twice against the first group. That makes the games against the second group that much more important. Lose one of those, and the Vikings will be reduced to the role of spoiler by the time they play Clinton on Oct. 10 and Starkville on Oct. 26.

“They’re must-wins,” Morgan said of the games against the region’s lesser teams. “The district we play in, you understand you’ve got to get the ones you’re supposed to get, for sure.”

Murrah already seems headed for a spoiler role. It hasn’t made the playoffs since 2011, and back-to-back losses to Madison Central and Clinton the past two weeks likely dropped it from contention again.
The Mustangs have struggled against top-flight competition — its only wins were against Jim Hill and Greenville, who have two wins combined — but does have some talent. Running back Demarcus Clincy has rushed for 756 yards and five touchdowns this season.

They are also catching a Warren Central team that has struggled a bit more than usual. WC has lost three of its last four games, including a brutally tough 24-17 decision to Madison Central last week that was decided by a fumble return touchdown in the final minute.

Whether the Vikings dwell on that loss or shake it off will likely determine whether this game is another blowout in the series or too close for comfort. Murrah has been shut out twice and scored a total of 19 points in its last five meetings with Warren Central. Two of those times, WC was coming off a loss to Madison Central.

“We’ve been able to stay locked in over the course of a long season. It’s not letting one loss turn into two, or letting a heartbreaking loss affect you the next week, or playing down to your competition,” Morgan said. “We have to handle the tough times the right way. If we do that, we have a chance to be .500 in the district heading into our last three ballgames.”

All games start at 7 p.m.

Warren Central at Murrah (Radio: 105.5 FM)
Vicksburg at Ridgeland (Radio: 107.7 FM/1490 AM)
Glenbrook at Porter’s Chapel (Radio: 104.5 FM)
Hillcrest Christian St. Aloysius (Radio: 101.3 FM)
Franklin County at Port Gibson
Tallulah Academy at Riverdale Academy
Claiborne Academy at Briarfield Academy
Delta Streets at Sharkey-Issaquena
Union Parish Madison Parish

ONLINE: For live updates on Friday night, visit

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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