Football enters its fun time of the season
By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
Nov. 8, 2002
It's finally that time of year where football really gets to be fun the playoffs.
One loss and you're done, it doesn't matter if you're unbeaten like nine public school and two private school teams currently are, or if you're 2-8 like St. Andrew's.
Plus it isn't so hot and miserable and maybe, perhaps, it won't be so wet either.
Obviously, the biggest surprise in the area this year is the Clarkdale Bulldogs. After 18 straight seasons of three wins or less (usually less), this year's Dawgs have gotten some bite to go with their bark.
Not only did Clarkdale make the playoffs, the Dawgs won their division for the first time in school history.
If second-year head coach Bubba Hathorn can lead his team past Bay Springs tonight, he might not be able to walk on water, but as long as Clarkdale fans are around, he won't have to. They'll be more than glad to carry him.
For the record, Clarkdale is 0-4 lifetime against Bay Springs and was outscored 177-27 in those four games from 1995-98, but again, these Dawgs have all four of their paws and seem to be able to use them quite well.
Not only has this year's team represented Clarkdale in a fine matter, the Dawgs have raised the banner for all Lauderdale County schools a tad as few division championships belong to the quartet.
Northeast won the Sub-District 5 Class A title in 1981, but lost 27-7 to Collins for the district championship. The 1985 Trojans also won the Division 5-3A sub-district title before losing 39-13 to Bay Springs for the division crown.
Southeast Lauderdale won the 1985 District 5-2A championship, but lost 34-7 to Bassfield in the opening round of the 2A state playoffs.
West Lauderdale won a district title in 1983 under Joe Williford and advanced to the third round of the state playoffs in an 8-4 year. The Knights also won the Division 5-3A championship in 1984 in going 10-2.
Actually, when the playoffs began in 1981, it was two years too late for Clarkdale. Under George Belvin's tutelage, Clarkdale went 9-3 and won the Cherokee Conference championship in 1979 and followed it up with an 8-2 mark and a Cherokee co-championship in 1980. If there had been playoffs then, not only would Clarkdale have played in them, who knows if their next two decades would have turned out to be as futile as they did?
Another relative newcomer to the playoffs is Union. Second-year head coach Brad Breland's Yellowjackets can win the Region 3-1A title tonight with a win over Puckett and are assured of just their second trip to the playoffs regardless of tonight's outcome.
At 7-3, this year's Union team has more wins than any Jacket team since the 1985 squad finished 9-1 with Breland playing tackle and handling the place-kicking chores.
Another rare playoff participant already assured of a berth this year are the Lamar Raiders, whose playoff game won't be until next week as they travel to Jackson to take on Hillcrest Christian tonight.
Lamar's previous playoff appearances were in 1982 (where the Raiders lost 12-8 to Strider in the finals), 1988 (where they lost 28-0 to Columbia in the opening round), 1997 (where they lost 47-28 to Centreville in the opening round), and last year (where Lamar fell 45-7 to Silliman Institute in the first round).
Of course, what would the playoffs be without Louisville. Since the 1981 season, the Wildcats have been a participant every year. It's a good thing the playoff participants were doubled from two to four last year or this year's team would have ended that string.
Old faithfuls back in the playoffs are Philadelphia (for the 16th time counting two appearances in the late 1920s), Forest, Morton, Bay Springs, Newton, Lake, and Heidelberg Academy. Frequent participants in recent years are Wayne Co., Newton Co., Noxubee Co., Quitman, Wayne Academy, and Leake Academy.