Warren Central zooms past Saltillo in playoff opener

Published 1:01 am Saturday, November 11, 2023

Warren Central wanted a fast start to its playoff opener against Saltillo. It looked more like Usain Bolt driving a top fuel dragster with a rocket strapped to the back.

The Vikings scored four touchdowns on their first 10 offensive snaps, had four first-half touchdowns of 30 yards or longer, and obliterated Saltillo 46-19 in the first round of the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs on Friday.

“That was a great start, great first half, and running the clock the whole second half. I thought our guys were focused on the task at hand,” Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said. “You saw us make plays in three phases, which is what we wanted to do. The guys were ready to play and did a very good job.”

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Warren Central (9-2) advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the fourth year in a row. It’ll host Grenada (9-3), which beat Vicksburg 37-8 on Friday, on Nov. 17.

Warren Central also extended its winning streak to seven consecutive games, which Morgan was especially pleased with.

“It’s important to have momentum and to be sharp in what we’re doing. Work all week on a game plan and practice really hard and prepare really hard,” Morgan said. “I thought our guys were very businesslike today. They didn’t care who we were playing, the Pittsburgh Steelers or Saltillo Tigers. We were ready to go and we were going to be on point. That’s what we did.”

The Vikings dominated from the start against Saltillo. Michael Hill blocked a punt on Saltillo’s opening series, and the ball rolled through the back of the end zone for a safety.

Zack Evans had a 32-yard return on the ensuing free kick, a personal foul penalty moved the ball to the Saltillo 23, and Eric Collins Jr. ran it in for a 14-yard touchdown two plays later.

Saltillo moved the ball into WC territory on its next possession, but quarterback Samuel Tice Timmons was intercepted by Julien Demby at the 35-yard line. On the next play, Nash Morgan faked a handoff on an end-around and launched a 67-yard touchdown pass to Evans that made it 16-0 with 5:57 left in the first quarter.

Saltillo went three-and-out on its next two possessions, and Warren Central cashed in with touchdown runs of 2 yards by Aden Greer and 76 yards by Collins. The latter made it 30-0 with 11:10 left in the second quarter.

“It sets the tone. It lets us know everybody out here is ready to go. If your brother is ready to go, you’re going to be ready to go,” said Evans, who also had a fumble recovery on defense. “When the score ends up looking like this is when everybody was ready to do what they needed to do to fire on all cylinders.”

The Vikings kept pouring it on in the second quarter. Jonah Artman kicked a 39-yard field goal, Greer scored his second touchdown on a 32-yard run, and Ryan Nelson threw a 34-yard TD pass to Teryn Green. Greer’s touchdown made it 46-0 with 1:29 to go.

“I thought we were unrelenting in attacking everywhere we could, from calling the blocked punt to our playcalling offensively,” Morgan said. “I thought we played well as a team, had a good plan, and our guys were ready to go.”

The Vikings amassed 326 yards of offense in the first half. Collins led the way with 117 rushing yards on four carries, and Greer had 56 on seven carries.

Timmons threw three touchdown passes, including two to Lathan Stewart, for Saltillo The last one came on the final play of the game.

“It was the most complete game we’ve played all year,” Evans said. “We had little missteps here and there. You can blame that on the elements. But aside from that it was a complete game.”

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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