Warren Central set for football spring game Thursday
Published 3:19 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2023
Warren Central has several key pieces of its always-stout defense coming back next season. It has several solid offensive linemen and two top receivers.
Now it just needs to find the guys who are going to throw and run with the football.
Warren Central lost a two-year starter at quarterback and three of its top four rushers from a team that finished 10-2 and reached the second round of the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs. Filling those holes is a primary concern this offseason, and seeing who takes the lead will be among the storylines for Thursday’s spring game vs. Grenada.
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“We lost an entire backfield. We do have some guys who played meaningful reps, but we’re pretty green in that area,” Vikings coach Josh Morgan said. “It wasn’t just losing Trey (Hall), it was losing those other guys as well. I think we’ve got some good competition there and I’m excited about watching and seeing who’s going to take it and run with it.”
The two biggest losses in the backfield are running back Trey Hall and quarterback Jack Wright. Hall was the 2022 Vicksburg Post Player of the Year after finishing with 1,424 total yards and 19 touchdowns. Wright, a two-year starter, passed for 1,690 yards and 13 touchdowns. Both players signed with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
The Vikings also lost fullback Mark Gray and tailback Darius Carter, two key role players who combined for 601 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. The heir apparent at tailback is junior Eric Collins Jr. (495 yards, five TDs in 2022), but the quarterback position is more uncertain.
The top two contenders are Maddox Lynch — the team’s leading receiver in 2022 — and Ryan Nelson. Neither have participated in spring practice because they were playing with Warren Central’s baseball team during its playoff run.
Harber Williams and Nash Morgan have gotten the snaps in the spring instead. Neither is likely to start the season opener against Clinton on Aug. 25, but giving them some first-team reps in spring will pay dividends down the line.
“They’ve done a really good job. It’s been awesome to watch (offensive coordinator Rob Morgan) work with these guys, and to watch where they started and where he’s gotten them to,” Josh Morgan said. “We have not missed a beat. They have grown, and it’s been really fun to watch that progress. They’ve put in a lot of work. We’ve had a productive spring, so we’re excited about that.”
Defensively, Julien Demby, Garrett Orgas-Fisher and Ronnie Blossom — the Vikings’ top three tacklers last season — are all coming back. Morgan said the spring practice period has helped to layer in some depth around that talented core.
Demby, Blossom and defensive lineman Larry Reynolds, another rising junior, combined for 15 sacks and 37 tackles for loss in 2022.
“We’ve got some really key playmakers, I think several of our leading tacklers, back. We feel like we have a good core,” Morgan said. “But we’re also trying to get that depth solidified. We definitely don’t feel like the cupboard is bare.”
The Vikings will play Grenada in the spring game Thursday at 6 p.m. at Delta State University’s McCool Stadium in Cleveland. It will be a four-quarter game with regulation rules, with the junior varsity running a 10-play series between each quarter.
It’s the same spring game format Warren Central has followed for several years, with several different opponents. Morgan said it works well to give all of his players some in-game reps and allow the coaches on both teams to evaluate everybody.
“The whole idea of doing this and setting this kind of a game up is to get our guys not just some snaps, but plenty of snaps,” Morgan said. “We’re able to do that and really get to see our kids, evaluate, and get them experience. It’s not just your ones and twos, it’s an entire program. It’s been good to us.”
WARREN CENTRAL KEY DATES
• May 11 – Spring game vs. Grenada, 6 p.m., at Delta State University
• June 5 – Summer workout period begins
• Aug. 18 – Preseason jamboree vs. North Pike, at Warren Central
• Aug. 25 – Red Carpet Bowl, vs. Clinton, at Vicksburg High School