Vikings face Columbus in playoff tune-up

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, November 1, 2023

It’s been a long time since Warren Central has gone into the final week of the regular season facing a game without any bearing on its region’s playoff picture.

That might explain why the Vikings aren’t treating it that way.

Warren Central clinched the MHSAA Region 2-6A championship last week, while Columbus was eliminated from playoff contention. Thursday’s contest at Viking Stadium is for little more than pride, stats and momentum, but Warren Central coach Josh Morgan bristled at the suggestion that his team would approach it like that.

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“We’re not taking that approach at all,” Morgan said. “It’s really the next week. We’ve been fortunate with injuries and things like that, and we’re definitely not going into it that way. It’s about winning. This is our next game and we want to be at our best, and that’s what it’s going to take so that’s what we’re gearing up for.”

Warren Central (7-2, 4-0 Region 2-6A) will play at home for at least the first two rounds of the Class 6A playoffs as a reward for winning its first region championship since 2004.

Finishing undefeated in the league — something it also has not done since 2004 — and keeping its momentum going heading into the playoffs is still important enough to pull out all the stops against Columbus (1-9, 0-4), Morgan said.

Warren Central clawed its way back from a 14-0 deficit in the second half last week to beat Callaway 27-6. Callaway totaled 471 yards of offense, blocked a PAT and recorded a safety off of a bad snap.

While much of the game was sloppy on the Vikings’ end, Morgan was pleased with the grit they showed to figure a way out of it.

“It was good to see that. It had all the makings of one of those nights that just wasn’t going to be our night. A lot of things went against us. They made some good plays and we did some things that were uncharacteristic,” said Morgan, who also got his 100th career victory. “But we were able to flip the script and pull it together, and find a way to overcome a lot of adversity. For that I’m proud of our heart and our fight.”

Warren Central improved its record in one-score games to 3-1, and has clearly found a formula for winning those that Columbus has not.

The Falcons have four losses by eight points or less, including two in region play. They lost 36-24 to Vicksburg last week in a game that wasn’t fully settled until the fourth quarter. With a couple of breaks, the Falcons could easily be in the playoff hunt instead of finishing their season on Thursday.

It’s just another reason why Morgan and the Vikings aren’t taking their foot off the gas and coasting into the playoffs with a victory lap to celebrate their region title.

“They’ve had some close games. They were a two-point conversion away from beating Neshoba and played Vicksburg well. They had four or five turnovers and still were in the ballgame. Ridgeland was a one-point game,” Morgan said. “I guess it’s typical of what our district has been. They’ve been right there in every ballgame. We’re going to have to be prepared to be at our best. It’s about finishing our district schedule.”

All games start at 7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 2
Columbus at Warren Central (Radio: 105.5 FM)
Ridgeland at Vicksburg (Radio: 107.7 FM)
Friday, Nov. 3
Deer Creek at Porter’s Chapel (Radio: 104.5 FM)
Tallulah Academy at Lee Academy, Arkansas
Franklin Academy at Sharkey-Issaquena Academy
Briarfield Academy at Riverdale
Centreville Academy at Central Hinds
Madison Parish at General Trass

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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