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All-Area football and softball teams haven't been forgotten

By Staff
Ooops … I think we did it again. And not only can I not believe we did it I can't believe I just wrote that. Oh well, at least my 4-year-old will relate.
Nonetheless, I've had a ton of calls over the last few weeks from folks wondering when we were going to run our All-Area softball and football teams.
I figured if I answered in this space, it might save me a few return phone calls and e-mails.
If you remember, The Meridian Star did not publish All-Area teams in any sport during the 1999-2000 school year for a variety of reasons. In lieu of the All-Area teams, we went with a list of Top 25 High School Male and Female Athletes at the end of the school year that, to my surprise, went over quite well judging by the response and the volume of votes we received.
We said then we wouldn't let the tradition of All-Area teams slide by again. Guess what? Through the transition of a host of staff changes in this department in the last year, it appears we've done just that.
Today is Feb. 1. Fall softball ended three months ago; high school football ended eight weeks ago; basketball is winding down; and baseball and all the other spring sports are here whether we're ready for them or not.
Still, we've published no All-Area teams, but we haven't forgotten about them either.
At this point, I don't think it's feasible to give awards for softball played three months ago considering more than 30 of our area schools will be starting their spring seasons in the next few weeks.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, our plan is to combine all of the softball from last Fall and this Spring once all of our schools have completed their upcoming seasons.
Football? We're working feverishly as you read this to get a jump on it. We have nominations from about one-third of the 42 football-playing schools in our coverage area. Obviously, we could use some help.
Thanks to the coaches who have already sent in their nominations.
Those who haven't can expect to be contacted soon, and they can also go ahead and send those nominations in by mail, phone, fax or e-mail at the numbers and addresses listed at the top left corner of this page.
At a loss for words …
I've also had a few area coaches ask me how The Associated Press high school polls work. And to tell you the truth, I thought I could give them legitimate answers.
But after the release of the last couple of polls, I can only throw my hands in the air.
Most of our area coaches know that I'm one of the poll voters. But I'm beginning to wonder if any of my colleagues around the state have a clue.
Tupelo's girls were pounded in last weekend's Robertson's Sportswear Classic, and even though the loss came to a nationally-ranked opponent, it was the Lady Wave's second since Christmas. Meridian's girls also lost, so I naturally figured the other top teams Jackson Murrah and Raymond, for example would creep closer to the top. But Tupelo got nine of a possible 12 first-place votes.
Speaking of 12 voters, there were 13 one week and 15 another. I mean, either vote or get off the poll.
How about Noxubee County? The Tigerettes peaked at No. 12 two weeks ago. They beat two solid teams in Neshoba Central and Starkville, but slipped to No. 13. Last week, Noxubee drilled two more tough foes in Louisville and Aberdeen, and the Tigerettes fell completely out of the poll.
It just doesn't make sense.
If the AP is going to put out a statewide poll, I wish the folks there would place a little more emphasis on it. After all, the kids who scan the list every week for their school's name deserve better.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rhigginbotham@themeridianstar.com.

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