The Madison Central High School Jaguars burst onto the field to take on Warren Central in the Red Carpet Classic at Warren Central High School Friday night in Vicksburg. The Jags rolled to a 42-0 win and moved to No. 1 in the rankings.
The Madison Central High School Jaguars burst onto the field to take on Warren Central in the Red Carpet Classic at Warren Central High School Friday night in Vicksburg. The Jags rolled to a 42-0 win and moved to No. 1 in the rankings.
Top-ranked Madison Central made a strong opening statement in its argument as the state’s best football team with a 42-0 win over Vicksburg. This week, the Jags (1-0) truly have a chance to win hearts and minds.

Big Blue, ranked preseason No. 1 in the state by Mississippi Gridiron, will host No. 2 Brandon at 7 p.m. Friday night. The Bulldogs (1-0) beat previously top-ranked Starkville 27-21 last weekend, setting up a huge early-season showdown between two perennial heavyweights in the Jungle.

“We won’t have any trouble motivating the guys or keeping them focused this week,” Madison Central coach Anthony Hart said. “Brandon is a great metro program, just like we are, and everyone love these kinds of games.”

If the results from Week 1 are any indication, the Jags appear ready for the challenge.

Madison Central completely dominated Vicksburg in every phase of the game, cruising to a 28-0 halftime lead and resting its starters on a running clock in the second half.

Quarterback Jimmy Holiday was superb, completing 13 of his 20 passes to nine different receivers for 160 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 54 yards and another score.

Junior receiver Tyler Austin was his main target, logging three receptions for 36 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.

“We expected Jimmy to pick up right where he left off last season, and he did,” Hart said. “We don’t have just a premier guy right now on the outside, but we have a lot of good, solid receivers and we were glad to be able to spread it around a little bit.”

The running back tandem of junior Duke Arnold and senior Javarius Jordan was unstoppable, combining for 192 yards on 31 carries with three more touchdowns. Jordan also caught a 43-yard touchdown pass out of the backfield for the longest pass-and-catch of the night.

Defensively, the Jaguar defense didn’t get as many snaps as Hart would have liked. Because of the success of the Jaguar running game and the rolling clock in the second half, Vicksburg (0-1) just didn’t have many opportunities at sustained drives.

“It’s probably a concern,” Hart said. “We controlled the ball so well on offense that we held it for most of the game, and I would have liked our defense to have gotten a little more experience.”

When the Jag defense was on the field, it smothered the Vikings. Madison Central defenders made five stops behind the line of scrimmage, including one sack from sophomore C.J. Barney. Junior Braxton Bolden scooped up Vicksburg’s only fumble of the night and senior defensive back Andre Mack recorded the first interception of the season.

Senior punter Alden Duncan was consistent, downing all three of his punts inside the Vicksburg 20-yard line. His performance ensured that the Vikings always had a long way to go in order to score. The Vikings got close only once, and MC sophomore Braxton Merritt blocked the Vicksburg field goal attempt to preserve the shutout.

“It was a solid opening game and I was proud of the way we played,” Hart said. “We’ll have to do everything a little bit better to beat Brandon. It’ll be a great atmosphere, and we can’t wait.”