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MPSA set for major changes

By Staff
Jan. 9, 2002
Lamar School head football coach Mac Barnes was very pleased with the way his young football team matured as the season went along.
Even though a 3-9 record was not what he was looking for, he did see promise. The Raiders started a sack full (actually two sacks full) of sophomores and freshmen in their playoff loss to Silliman (La.) Institute, giving Barnes a lot of hope.
While the team will still improve and should be strong the next two seasons, the road to the playoffs will likely be a little tougher in 2002.
The Mississippi Private School Association which Lamar is a part of will be reducing its number of classes from four to three for the 2002-2003 school year.
While all of the numbers aren't in and the negotiating isn't complete, it is almost a certainty that Lamar will be in the highest class, meaning the Raiders will be competing against the Jackson Preps and Pillow Academies of the MPSA world.
There has been some talk about providing a way for two teams (based on school size) to win football championships in AAA (the highest classification), but that hasn't been worked out.
Barnes, Lamar athletic director Doc Stephens and head of school Termie Land say they have no problem playing in the bigger league.
The current proposal has the 16 schools with the largest enrollment playing in AAA.
The biggest classification will be A, where most of the schools in The Meridian Star coverage area will fall.
Final announcements of classifications and districts are expected in February.
It shouldn't have a major effect on several of the school's programs, including boys and girls soccer, golf, tennis, cross-country and baseball, which have fared well against teams in higher classifications in the past.
In fact, Lamar is the favorite year-in and year-out to win the overall golf championship.
And something tells me that Barnes, Stephens and crew will use the challenge to push the rest of the athletic programs to newer heights.
How could anybody not vote for the Wiz?
Ozzie Smith was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot on Tuesday.
Thank goodness for some common sense.
I did not see such greats as Honus Wagner and Pie Traynor play in person or on television, but I can't imagine that there has ever been a fielder that changed the times any more than Ozzie Smith.
The slick-fielding shortstop turned playing defense into an absolute art form.
Television helped rocket him into the minds of baseball fans across the country and his incredible knack for making near impossible plays has sparked the imagination of many a youth baseball player.
Some of those guys go by the names of Rey Ordonez, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, all slick-fielding shortstops themselves.
Smith's flair, and team spirit, alone are enough to qualify him for the Hall.
Big game in Oxford on Saturday afternoon
Faring well in the Southeastern Conference basketball race really isn't that much of a mystery.
You have to win your home games and then swipe one or two on the road.
Mississippi State took care of the home issue against Kentucky on Saturday, but failed to take care of business on the road against Arkansas on Tuesday night.
The Bulldogs will have another chance to win on the road on Saturday against Ole Miss, but the Rebels, in turn, will be trying to defend their home court.
It should be interesting.

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