Warren Central set for showdown vs. nemesis Brandon
Published 2:31 pm Thursday, September 14, 2023
Warren Central’s players and coaches try to never look too far ahead. Their week-to-week approach, especially during a grueling non-region schedule filled with traditional MHSAA Class 7A powers, seems wise and has served them well.
This game, though, is one they’ve been eyeing for a while.
The Vikings (2-1) play at home on Friday night against Brandon (1-2). It’s one of the marquee games this week in Mississippi, and a chance to overcome an opponent that has beaten them four times and ended their season twice in the past two years.
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“It’s been circled since last November for sure,” senior wide receiver Zack Evans said.
That November meeting was a 36-28 Brandon victory in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs. The Bulldogs also beat Warren Central in the regular season, as well as in the regular season and playoffs in 2021 and 2022.
Warren Central has a 20-7 record over the past two-plus seasons. Four of those losses have been to Brandon. Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said revenge is a good motivational tool, but did not want it to be the only one.
“They don’t all need to be reminded that they put us out the last two years. That’s going to be there, and we’ll use that,” Morgan said. “But our focus needs to be on how do we win? What’s our game plan? What’s my job? We can’t afford to let that waver. For us to win, we have to play really well and we have to do our jobs and that’s where I want our focus to be at.”
Brandon, of course, has not been a nemesis just for Warren Central. The Bulldogs’ playoff victories over the Vikings were part of their road to back-to-back Class 6A championship game appearances.
Although Brandon has been slow out of the gate this year, it still has most of its key players from those deep playoff runs and remains a formidable opponent. It’s two losses were to perennial state powers Picayune — which won the Class 5A title in 2021 and 2022 — and Madison Central, which beat Brandon in the 2021 Class 6A championship game.
Brandon beat Clinton 31-10 last week for its first win.
“They’re very talented, and they’ll be one of the last ones if not the last one standing this year,” Morgan said. “Those losses can be deceiving — the 5A champion the last two years (Picayune), and we all understand how good Madison is, and they played Clinton last week and West Point in the jamboree. It’s similar to that old gauntlet we’re in the process of running. It’s a good football team.”
Warren Central also has a convincing win over Clinton on its resumé, 28-7 in the Red Carpet Bowl in Week 1, and is finding success with a mix of big plays on offense and a stingy defense.
The defense has only allowed 35 points in its first three games and held Germantown to a single field goal in last week’s 21-3 victory. It also got a defensive touchdown in that game, on a 54-yard interception return by Garrett Orgas. Another interception return touchdown was negated by a penalty.
Orgas finished with 11 tackles as well. Tekarius Qualls had 15, Julien Demby 14, and Gavin Davenport 12.
“I think we have the potential to be a really good defense. We’ve got some guys there that are experienced and have some big-time games under their belt. I feel like we’re athletic and growing up in spots we need to grow up in,” Morgan said.
The offense has scored eight touchdowns, with five of them coming from 30 yards or more. Two others were set up by a 42-yard pass inside the 5-yard line, and a turnover that started a drive in the red zone.
While the big plays are nice, Morgan said he’d be just as happy — maybe even happier — to see his offense grind out a few long scoring drives.
“Those are good to see. But at the same time, we don’t want to have to depend on that. We want to be more consistent. We need to run the ball more consistently,” Morgan said. “I’m very pleased with those explosive plays, but we need to get to where we consistently get those five-, six-yard type runs that really set us up, and be consistently good on third down and extend drives and control the game on the offensive side of the ball.”
FRIDAY’S AREA GAMES
All games start at 7 p.m.
Clinton Christian at St. Aloysius (Radio: 101.3 FM)
Brandon at Warren Central (Radio: 105.5 FM)
Vicksburg at Terry (Radio: 107.7 FM)
Park Place at Porter’s Chapel (Radio: 104.5 FM)
Tallulah Academy at Wilkinson County Christian
Humphreys Academy at Sharkey-Issaquena
Canton Academy at Central Hinds
Port Gibson at Raymond
Lafayette Renaissance Charter at Madison Parish