Ninth-grade Vikings’ run ends in Little Six championship game

Published 9:58 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2023

BRANDON — It was the kind of season Warren Central wanted for its ninth-grade fgotball team — just not the ending.

The freshmen Vikings won three games in a row after a 1-2 start to reach the Little Six Conference championship game, and learned a bit about overcoming adversity along the way. The run ended, however, with a 42-14 loss to Brandon on Tuesday.

Warren Central finished with a 4-3 record and played for the Little Six title for the first time since the Jackson Metro junior high league split into two divisions in 2019.

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“To see where we were — we were 1-2 after we played (Brandon) the first time and got pretty much beat down mentally and physically. We fought back, came back, won the West (Division) with a lot of heart,” Warren Central coach Matt Williams said. “This group is special. This group has got a lot of positives to it. Just super proud of their heart.”

Brandon (7-0) was the Little Six East Division champion and finished a perfect season. Trey McQueen and Logan Drummond each had a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown, and also scored twice on offense.

McQueen had 16 carries for 123 rushing yards and a touchdown, and caught five passes for 46 yards and a TD. Drummond caught two touchdown passes.

Warren Central quarterback Blake Caruthers ran 13 times for 126 yards, with two touchdowns of 19 and 10 yards in the second half. Ke’Anthony Wynn added 49 rushing yards on 11 carries.

“(Caruthers) ran hard. We have a saying that you’ve got have that dog in you, and he’s got that dog in you,” Williams said. “It’s all of them. This whole group, they feed off each other. It’s something this group has had that groups previous have not had.”

McQueen’s pick-six when the Vikings were driving in the red zone in the second quarter was followed by a successful onside kick. McQueen broke a 38-yard touchdown run on the next play from scrimmage to make it 21-0 with 5:26 left.

Warren Central also dropped a potential touchdown pass early in the game and gave up Drummond’s pick-six with a minute to go in the fourth quarter. The miscues did not completely swing the outcome, but helped turn the game into more of a blowout than it might have been.

“We just didn’t execute tonight,” Williams said. “Had a couple of drops, a deep ball that we probably should’ve caught that we catch in practice nine out of 10 times. A lot of missed tackles, missed assignments on defense. We just didn’t execute. The kids’ heart was there, their effort was there.”

In the disappointment of a championship game loss, the big picture was what Williams and the Vikings were trying to keep in focus. Winning the Little Six is a goal, of course, but getting everyone ready to contribute at the varsity level next year is also a major priority.

Williams felt like this group of players accomplished that, and not just by becoming well-versed in the X’s and O’s of Warren Central’s playbook.

“They went up and down all season. We had to overcome some injuries, and it was just your typical ninth-grade year. They found a way to get there and to make things happen for us,” Williams said. “I can’t say enough about the young men that they’re becoming. We take a lot of pride in doing that and developing these kids. It’s hard to see them sad and all that, but in the bigger picture this game is going to pay bigger dividends for us later on.”

Eighth Grade
Warren Central 41, Brandon 14
Warren Central’s eighth-grade team also finished off a memorable year by routing Brandon in the Little Six third-place game on Tuesday.

Cameron Zellous threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score for the Vikings, who outscored Brandon 29-6 in the second half.

Jalen DeFrance caught two touchdown passes from Zellous and Doss Morgan got the other one. Xavier Jackson added a rushing touchdown.

The eighth-grade Vikings finished their season with a 6-1 record.

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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