Vikings try to gain upper hand in Region 2-6A when rival Vicksburg visits

Published 3:00 pm Thursday, October 12, 2023

Some of Warren Central’s Region 2-6A games are first-time match-ups, and others are with teams it hasn’t faced in a while.

And then there’s the one the Vikings quite literally know like family.

Warren Central (4-2, 1-0 MHSAA Region 2-6A) will renew its old rivalry with crosstown rival Vicksburg High (4-2, 0-1) Friday at 7 p.m. at Viking Stadium. It’s the 43rd meeting between the teams, and always a game that’s circled on the schedule of both sides.

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“This is big. It’s always big. It’s great for our community, it’s great for our players to be able to experience this kind of atmosphere that it’ll be,” Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said. “It’s everything that makes rivalries great, but the biggest thing is the atmosphere. It’s a great experience. It’s something that everybody looks forward to and the kids will never forget.”

Although this is a familiar match-up, there is a fresh twist on this year’s River City Rivalry game. For the first time since 2011, the Vikings and Gators will face each other as region rivals and play for stakes well beyond mere bragging rights.

It’s an elimination game for Vicksburg as far as the region title is concerned. The Gators lost to Neshoba Central last week and would not be able to climb from an 0-2 hole to first place with only three region games left.

Morgan said Vicksburg is a talented and dangerous opponent. The last two games between the teams were decided by a total of three points, and the Gators had opportunities to win both in the final minute.

“They’re very athletic, very talented. They’re good at what they do. They have some gamebreakers and really explosive players on both sides of the football,” he said. “This has been a special group for them. They all seem to be playing forever, three-year starters, so they’re a very talented, experienced football team.”

For the Vikings, meanwhile, it’s a chance to knock out one of their chief competitors for the Region 2-6A title and gain a commanding position. Getting to 2-0 with head-to-head tiebreakers over Vicksburg and Ridgeland could almost assure them of no worse than a playoff berth.

“I don’t know if it’s different, because you’re going to get both teams’ best. It just magnifies the outcome because both teams want to win it very badly,” Morgan said. “It just ups the ante because it’s such an important game, and now it’s not just for bragging rights. It’s for your district and your playoff push.”

Of course, Warren Central has aspirations far higher than a mere playoff berth. It hasn’t won a region title since 2004, and a victory Friday would put it in prime position to end that drought.

The Vikings more than held their own against a non-region schedule of five strong Class 7A teams. It then beat Ridgeland 38-6 in last week’s 2-6A opener.

Four different players scored touchdowns for the Vikings as they rushed for a season-high 223 yards as a team. The defense had three takeaways and held their third opponent to seven points or less.

“What we saw last week was us continuing to improve. I think we’re still trending upward, which is exactly what you want to see,” Morgan said. “I feel like we’re becoming more balanced offensively, which will ultimately make us harder to defend and be better for us. I think we’ve gotten better and more comfortable with our guys, and our guys are getting more and more experience week to week. I’ve been pleased with our progression. If we’ll continue that trend it will benefit us down the road.”

All games start at 7 p.m.
Vicksburg at Warren Central (Radio: 107.7 and 105.5 FM)
St. Aloysius at Manchester (Radio: 101.3 FM)
Wilkinson County Christian at Porter’s Chapel (Radio: 104.5 FM)
Tallulah Academy at River Oaks
Sharkey-Issaquena Academy at Claiborne Academy
Central Hinds at Tri-County
Clinton Christian at Port Gibson
Madison Parish at Mangham

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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