Morgan goes for 100th win, Vikings for region title, Friday vs. Callaway

Published 2:30 pm Thursday, October 26, 2023

Josh Morgan would much rather talk about the opportunity to win Warren Central’s first region championship since 2004 than the personal milestone he’s about to reach.

It’s difficult to do, however, when it’s this rare.

Warren Central’s 27-3 victory over Neshoba Central last week was Morgan’s 99th as its head coach. Beating Callaway this Friday night at Hughes Field in Jackson would make him only the fourth to reach 100 with a Warren County high school.

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Although Morgan’s name will go in the record books, he said it was an achievement shared by every player and coach who has worked with him for the last 14 years.

“It’s a great compliment to all of our wonderful players over however long I’ve been the head coach, 13, 14 years. It’s really cool because everybody’s got a hand in it,” Morgan said. “That’s a tribute to our players who we love very much and invest a lot in and our wonderful coaching staff that’s been a part of it. When you say that, that’s the first thing that pops in my mind. I’m happy for that on their behalf, and happy that we have a program that we’re all very proud of.”

Morgan’s father, Robert, is the all-time wins leader among Warren County coaches with 168 at Warren Central from 1985 to 2003.

Lum Wright, Sr. got 125 of his 361 career victories at Warren Central between 1971 and 1984, and Joe Balzli won 115 games at St. Aloysius during two separate stints from 1936-60.

Josh Morgan only won three games in his first two seasons at Warren Central, in 2010 and 2011, and has not had a losing season since. The Vikings (6-2, 3-0 Region 2-6A) will make their 12th consecutive playoff appearance this season, which is one of the longest active streaks in the MHSAA.

“Consistently good has been our goal, and then consistently relevant. We’ve done that, always being right there in the middle of everything,” Morgan said.

Morgan said that as great as building a successful program has been, doing it in his hometown and at his alma mater has made it even more special.

“This is way more than a job out here, not only to me but to our entire coaching staff. When you look at it that way you take a lot of pride in it,” he said. “It’s been a lot of hard work that’s been a part of this. No shortcuts, no cutting corners. It was a lot of hard work getting this going, and a lot of great coaches who have had such ownership in it. This is not about me, this is about us, and that’s the way we run our program.”

Of course, there is still one more win to get before Morgan can accept a congratulatory Gatorade dunk and it happens to be an important one.

Warren Central was part of a three-way tie for the Region 2-6A championship in 2013 and 2022, but because of tiebreakers it officially finished third both times. Beating Callaway (4-5, 2-1) would give the Vikings their first outright championship since 2004.

“That goes back to this is a really big deal for our program. We were in some really great districts where making the playoffs is a true accomplishment. What makes it the big deal is not just saying you’re district champions, but what it sets up for you in the playoffs with the seeding and home field advantage to reach our ultimate goal,” Morgan said.

As he’s closed in on 100 wins, Morgan said he has gotten some congratulatory messages. There was a question about three games in particular — two COVID-19 forfeits in 2020 and the 2018 Red Carpet Bowl vs. Oxford that was cut short because of weather — that made his offical total uncertain.

The Oxford game, which Warren Central led 14-6 early in the third quarter, was ruled a no-contest. The two forfeits in 2020 against Greenville and Murrah are considered victories by the MHSAA.

“They were trying to dunk me last week and I had to wave them off. I didn’t know what they were talking about,” Morgan said with a laugh.

The party could be on this Friday night, although Morgan said he wants it to be a double celebration. Coupling the 100th victory that recognizes long-term success with a region championship that sets this year’s team on a favorable postseason path, would be the best of all worlds.

“I don’t want to cut the 100 wins short, because that’s more of a program achievement,” Morgan said. “I’m not going to say it’s not as relevant, but the district championship is huge for us in our season right now and that’s where all of our focus is. But it sure would be really neat to get that milestone in winning the district championship.”

All games start at 7 p.m.
Warren Central at Callaway (Radio: 105.5 FM)
Vicksburg at Columbus (Radio: 107.7 FM)
Tensas Academy at Tallulah Academy
Port Gibson at South Pike
Madison Parish at Vidalia

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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