Vikings quickly move on from Red Carpet Bowl victory with trip to Pearl

Published 2:00 pm Thursday, August 31, 2023

Warren Central put months of time and effort into beating Clinton in the Red Carpet Bowl. Now it’s over and the real season can begin.

The Vikings have quickly put their Week 1 victory behind them and moved on to a Week 2 match-up on the road at Pearl on Friday. It’s the first game of the rest of the schedule, and a suddn reminder that in football you never get to enjoy success for long.

“We used that week kind of getting in the groove and focusing on us and our identity and making sure we were on point,” Warren Central head coach Josh Morgan said. “I was very pleased with how we played and like where we’re sitting with our momentum. Now it’s back to work with another great opponent. Patting yourself on the back and all that’s over with.

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You have to go back to work. This is really getting in the groove of everything.”
Playing Pearl (1-0) continues a theme in WC’s non-region schedule of reviving old rivalries or keeping them alive. This is the 42nd meeting between the teams, and the ninth year in a row that they’ve played.

Warren Central and Pearl are in different classifications following the latest round of MHSAA realignment, but Morgan said maintaining this series — and several others — was a goal when crafting the schedule.

WC is now in Class 6A, but its non-region schedule includes five 7A teams that were frequent opponents over the years.

“Storied match-up. We go way back, and again it’s one that’s very competitive,” Morgan said. “It’s a lot like the Clinton game. A lot of them come down to the last possession and are traditionally competitive games. We’re two teams that go way back.”

The Vikings beat Pearl 38-21 last October, in what was part of a season-ending six-game losing streak for the Pirates. Pearl finished with a 2-9 record that was its worst since 1974.

Morgan, though, said the Pirates were a young team that took their lumps and appear to have improved. Pearl beat Madison Central in its preseason jamboree, then opened with a 35-10 victory against Neshoba Central.

“They’re a year older across the board, and a very experienced football team that got better as the year went on. I thought they were one of the more improved teams that we played,” Morgan said. “Very physical. Got a really good quarterback who played last year for them, and good athletic receivers around him. This will be another big challenge for us.”

Warren Central passed its first challenge by being opportunistic. It recovered four fumbles in its 28-7 victory over Clinton last week, two of which the offense converted into touchdowns.

“I thought we started fast and we were very opportunistic,” Morgan said. “We forced four fumbles, turned them over three times on downs and we blocked a kick. Those numbers are good for us and we turned it over zero. I thought our game plan was good and we executed it, and we played well in all three phases.”

Special teams played a big role as well. Two of the fumble recoveries came on kicks, and Rickey Neal blocked a field goal late in the first half. Maddox Lynch averaged 35.0 yards on five punts, while Jonah Artman had three touchbacks on five kickoffs to help control field position.

“We spend a lot of time on our special teams and we try to win in that area. It wasn’t overlooked for us. We work on it a lot,” Morgan said. “We wanted to be better early on special teams. We thought it would give us an edge. I really thought it was a big turning point in the game.”

All games start at 7 p.m.
Warren Central at Pearl (Radio: 105.5 FM)
East Rankin at St. Aloysius (Radio: 101.3 FM)
Forest Hill at Vicksburg (Radio: 107.7 FM)
Riverdale at Porter’s Chapel (Radio; 104.5 FM)
Tallulah Academy at Briarfield
Deer Creek at Sharkey-Issaquena
Central Hinds at Amite School Center
Jim Hill at Port Gibson

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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