Vikings start Region 2-6A schedule with first-ever meeting with Ridgeland

Published 4:00 pm Thursday, October 5, 2023

Warren Central spent the first month of the season visiting its old neighborhood. Now it’s time to get better acquainted with the new one.

The Vikings open their MHSAA Region 2-6A schedule Friday, with their homecoming game against Ridgeland. Although it seems like a convenient match-up for both teams, this will be the first time they’ve ever faced each other in varsity football.

Ridgeland is the only Jackson Metro school currently in Class 5A or above that Warren Central has never played.

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“I don’t know the answer to that,” Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said when asked why they’ve never faced the Titans. “We’re pretty familiar with them through the Little Six, but I don’t really know.”

While the varsity teams have never met, the schools and football programs are hardly unacquainted. They’ve been frequent opponents in the Little Six junior high league and played in every other sport over the past 20 years.

There is also familiarity on a personal level. Ridgeland’s new head coach, Todd McDaniel, spent the past three seasons at Vicksburg High. McDaniel’s Wing-T offense can be difficult to prepare for on short notice, so having seen it the past few years — and having an extra week to game plan for it, thanks to an open date — helps, Morgan said.

“It helps with the bye week, being able to see that offense for not just one week with minimal practice days. We’ve been able to teach it to our scout team and see it a couple of extra days, and also having some familiarity with it the last couple of years,” Morgan said. “It’s just like anything else, the more you see it, the more experience you have with it, the more it sets you up for success with it.”

Ridgeland (2-3) won’t be the only new opponent Warren Central (3-2) will see in Region 2-6A. It also has never played Neshoba Central, and hasn’t faced Columbus since 2014 or Callaway since 2016.

The non-region schedule, on the other hand, was full of Class 7A teams that Warren Central has faced often over the years. Morgan said those games prepared his team well for what’s to come.

“I think we’ve played good people. We’ve been in several different situations and I feel like we’ve gotten better every week,” Morgan said. “That growth has been there. I think that’s helped us for sure. We have an improved, confident bunch going into district.”

Warren Central beat Madison Central 24-21 in its last outing on Sept. 22 and desperately wants that momentum to carry over. Even though it’s the first week of region play, piling up every possible win is important.

MHSAA realignment cut the number of teams in each region from eight to six, meaning there are fewer chances to overcome mistakes in the playoff and championship races.

“With the fewer district games, each one is magnified because you just don’t have as much time to make up for lost ground,” Morgan said. “But, at the same time, the approach — jumping out to a fast start and getting ahead in the standings — is really important. We also want to control our own destiny. The road to both of those is a win.”

All games start at 7 p.m.
Vicksburg at Neshoba Central (Radio: 107.7 FM)
Sharkey-Issaquena at Porter’s Chapel (Radio: 104.5 FM)
St. Aloysius at Columbia Academy (Radio: 101.3 FM)
Ridgeland at Warren Central (Radio: 105.5 FM)
Tallulah Academy at Prentiss Christian
Port Gibson at Wesson
Rayville at Madison Parish

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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