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Rivalries key tonight's big games

By By Marty Stamper / sports writer
Sept. 12, 2003
Don't look now, but rivalry week is already upon us in the high school ranks. Granted, nearly every week has some high school rivalry being renewed, but this week's menu has some intriguing matchups.
Meridian and Laurel scrap for the 86th time when they meet tonight in Ray Stadium. After not playing each other for eight years, the rivalry resumed in 2001 with a 32-19 Laurel win at Ray Stadium.
Last fall saw Laurel take a 27-26 victory "Between the Bricks" at R.H. Watkins Stadium in Laurel. That win by the Golden Tornadoes trimmed Meridian's lead in the series to 49-32-4.
The series began in 1909 with Meridian taking a 10-0 win.
Laurel comes into town with a 1-1 record, while Meridian is 0-2.
The 44th-annual head knocker in Neshoba County takes place tonight at Philadelphia's Harpole Stadium as the Tornadoes host the Neshoba Central Rockets.
Philadelphia has reeled off six straight wins to grab a 23-20 series lead.
The Tornadoes are 2-0, while the Rockets are 0-2.
Newton and Bay Springs renew their feud tonight after a two-year layoff. The teams met each fall from 1961-2000 before not facing each other in 2001 and 2002. In those 40 meetings from 1961-2000, Newton won 20 times and Bay Springs won 19 with the 1964 game ending in a 7-7 tie.
Newton is 0-2, while Bay Springs is 1-1.
West Lauderdale and Enterprise clash for the first time since 1992 when they square off tonight at Enterprise. This will be their 22nd meeting with Enterprise holding a 13-7-1 lead in the series.
Enterprise is 2-0, while West Lauderdale is 1-1.
Long-time academy rivals tangle in Macon tonight when neighbors Central Academy, 1-2, and Kemper Academy, 2-1, get it on.
Newton County Academy tries to make a move up the Class A ladder when the Generals host Heidelberg Academy in a series dominated by the Rebels. Heidelberg has won 24 of the previous 26 games with NCA's last victory coming in 1992.
Heidelberg brings a 1-2 record into the showdown, while NCA is 2-1.
Another battle in Neshoba County takes place on Saturday when Choctaw Central hosts Cherokee, N.C., in the Battle of the Nations VIII. Cherokee has won five of the previous seven games, including a 34-0 blowout last fall in North Carolina.
Remember this about that game, players aren't just playing for their hometown. That game is for the pride of their entire tribe.
Choctaw Central is 1-1, while Cherokee is already 1-3. The Braves' first game was on Aug. 15 as cooler temperatures allow for an earlier start in the mountains. And North Carolinians have to get ready for basketball season.
Speaking of rivalries, Clarkdale and Southeast Lauderdale beat the others to the punch as they tangled last night. Southeast entered the game with an 11-game losing streak, while Clarkdale came in with a three-game skid.
The 1980 season opener between the two saw Southeast snap a 30-game losing slide with a 20-10 victory over the Bulldogs. Clarkdale would go on to finish 8-2 that fall.
Good games aren't limited to rivalries. Wayne County faces a test to its 2-0 start when the War Eagles travel to McComb, 2-0.
Last year's Class 4A state runner-up West Point, 2-0, travels to Louisville, 1-1. The Green Wave beat the Wildcats 17-7 last year when they were in the same division.
Northeast Lauderdale, 1-1, hosts Newton County, 0-2, in a series deadlocked at two wins apiece.
Quitman's 1-1 Panthers play host to an 0-2 Pascagoula program that has sputtered since the creation of Gautier High School.
In other games, Lamar, 2-1, hosts Columbia Academy, 3-0; Union, 0-2, hosts Nanih Waiya, 1-1; Kemper County, 0-2, goes to Heidelberg, 1-1; Lake, 0-2, hosts Carthage, 0-2; Noxapater, 1-1, goes to Hatley, 0-2; Leake Academy, 2-1, visits Oak Hill Academy, 1-2; Wayne Academy, 1-2, hosts 3-0 Oak Forest Academy out of Amite, La.; and Winston Academy, 1-2, travels to Sylva-Bay Academy, 2-1.