Warren Central’s season ends with playoff loss to Horn Lake

Published 1:12 am Saturday, November 10, 2018

The end of Warren Central’s football season, as it so often does, mirrored the rest of it.

The Vikings played well in some areas and fought hard to stay in the game. They had some opportunities slip away and some self-inflicted mistakes that proved costly. And, in the end, it was ultimately an uphill slog that didn’t go nearly as well as they would have liked.

Warren Central’s offense never crossed midfield against top-ranked Horn Lake’s defense, allowing a strong effort from its own defense to go to waste, and lost 19-0 in the first round of the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs.

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

Patrick Gilliam and Nakobe Dean each scored on short touchdown runs for Horn Lake (12-0), which also recorded a safety and got a 31-yard field goal from Isaac Marquez.

Horn Lake forced two turnovers to offset a stubborn Warren Central defense. The Vikings recovered three fumbles and stopped three Horn Lake drives inside the 25-yard line in the second half. The WC offense, however, never was able to capitalize and gradually the Eagles pulled away.

“We couldn’t get anything going offensively. Their defense was the difference in the ballgame,” Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said. “We didn’t look good against a very good defense. Their front four was very, very dominant, big, with good linebackers behind them and they played well in the secondary. They took away what we do best and we couldn’t get anything going.”

Horn Lake advanced to play Starkville — a 37-7 winner over South Panola on Friday night — in the second round next week.

Warren Central (5-6) finished with its first losing record since 2011, and lost in the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The shutout to Horn Lake was the program’s first since October 2010, when it lost 21-0 to Clinton.

Despite all of that, Morgan was proud of his team’s grit. The Vikings won three of their last four regular-season games to qualify for the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year. Two of their losses were in the final minute of a game and they lost another opportunity for a victory to a weather cancellation — all against Class 6A playoff teams — showing that they had a place among the state’s best despite finishing below .500.

“I was proud of our guys to watch them get better week in and week out,” Morgan said. “We had to fight tooth and nail just to get in the playoffs. We earned it, and I was proud of our guys for fighting to the very end. I’m very proud to be their coach.”