Time for some games with meaning
By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
Sept. 26, 2003
After a month of tune-ups, it's now time for the football games that actually have meaning as far as the playoffs go.
None will be bigger than the contest taking place at Collinsville tonight. Newton County comes in with a 1-3 overall mark with all four games being with Class 4A schools. West Lauderdale has a 3-1 mark with three of its four games coming against smaller schools.
Newton County, which has not lost to a division opponent since 1998, has been the division champion each of the last four years and has an 11-1 series advantage over the Knights.
The last time the Knights were poised to dethrone the Cougars was in 2001 and Newton County went on to win 27-9 in the regular season and 40-10 in the playoffs.
Also in 5-3A tonight, Southeast Lauderdale, 1-3, travels to Carthage, 1-3. Carthage has won the last four games in the series to grab a 5-3 advantage. Three of the last four were settled by a total of eight points.
Quitman faces a big test when the 2-2 Panthers host 4-0 Wayne County. For the record, Quitman was Wayne County's first opponent when the War Eagles made their debut in 1989. Quitman won that contest, but the rest of the series belongs to Wayne County. This is their first meeting since a 34-0 Wayne County win in 2000 and it counts in the Division 5-4A standings.
Another 5-4A opener has Northeast Lauderdale going to Florence. The Trojans dominated the Eagles last year only to come away with a 7-6 loss.
Meridian faces an old rival when Hattiesburg invades Ray Stadium. Up until a 38-6 spanking from the Tigers in 2001, Ray Stadium had been Hattiesburg's own chamber of horrors as its last 13 trips to Meridian resulted in losses following a 7-7 tie in 1974. Meridian also won at Ray in 1971 and 1973 and the teams didn't meet from 1960-69. That's a long stretch with nothing to show for it.
The two first tangled in 1922 with the game ending in a 7-7 draw. Meridian leads the series 39-17-3 with the Tigers winning the last two matchups.
The annual battle between the small schools of Winston County has Noxapater hosting Nanih Waiya in a Region 3-1A contest. The Warriors have won the last two games in the series to trim Noxapater's all-time advantage to 32-13.
In Division 5-2A, the winner between Newton and Kemper County will get the upper hand in that league as the other four members won't begin division games until next week.
An interesting non-divisional matchup between Class 2A teams has Enterprise, 2-2, hosting Lake, 2-2. One of the best games I've ever seen was in 1988 at Lake when Sammie Holifield scored four touchdowns to lead the Hornets to a 25-21 victory over Enterprise. Lake went on to win the Class 2A state championship that year after Enterprise had won back-to-back titles in 1986 and 1987.
Part of the mystique about that game was the horrible conditions that led to the postponement of many games in the area, including Forest and Morton's annual battle for the golden chicken. Many of the folks whose games were postponed began their trek to Death Valley with the field nearly completely surrounded with fans… a true testament to both of those teams on a stormy, stormy night.
Two keys contests in Academy 3-A are set for Decatur and Louisville. At Decatur, Newton County Academy and Central Academy try to stay in the running for a playoff berth as do Wayne Academy and Winston Academy when they clash in Louisville.
In other Academy 3-A action, league-leading Heidelberg Academy goes to DeKalb to take on Kemper Academy.
In other games, Union hosts Pelahatchie, Louisville is at Kosciusko, Neshoba Central hosts Pearl, Choctaw Central goes to Morton, Clarkdale hosts Heidelberg, Philadelphia goes to Forest, Leake Academy hosts Bayou Academy, and Sylva-Bay Academy hosts Prentiss Christian.