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High school teams at the crossroads

It’s often known as growing up. It’s also known as improving andgetting better.

Many high school football teams are at a crossroads this week.Approaching the midway point of the 2000 season, they have one oftwo options. They must continue improving or else flush theirseason and state playoff hopes goodbye.

For many area teams, division play begins this week or next.They are facing the prospects of some must-win situations.

The burden probably weighs heaviest on the Lawrence CountyCougars. Being the defending Class 4A state champion brings with ithigh expectations. Folks don’t realize how much Lawrence Countylost to graduation. For openers, consider 18 graduatedstarters.

Lawrence County (2-2) hosts the always-tough South Pike Eagles(2-2) in a Division 6-4A showdown Friday night. South Pike isexpected to contend for the division championship, along with theMcComb Tigers.

The Cougars have plenty of offensive potential. Head coachDanny Adams said his team must overachieve on defense tothwart South Pike’s big-play offense. At 10 p.m., Friday night, alot of questions will be answered.

Brookhaven’s Panthers (2-1) have suddenly entered theDivision 6-4A playoff picture. This surprising turnaround happenedat Mendenhall last Friday night. Mendenhall was supposed to makeshort work of the Panthers in a non-division game.

Surprise!

Coach Greg Wall’s Panthers performed extremely well onoffense and defense. They escaped with am eye-opening 22-15 win.Three weeks ago, Mendenhall had humbled South Pike 52-28 atMagnolia.

South Pike lost 14-12 to Warren Central the next week atVicksburg. Warren Central visited previously McComb last Fridaynight and posted an impressive 21-7 victory. Go figure.

Loyd Star appears primed to make another run at the Division6-2A championship. Bogue Chitto and Enterprise still have a shot atwinning the Division 7-1A title. The Jackets and Bobcats collidenext Friday night after this week’s Possum Bowl at Loyd Star.

Brookhaven Academy must win the rest of its District 4-AA gamesafter losing to Columbia Academy. Franklin County, winless in fourgames, begins its Division 6-3A schedule next week and the Bulldogshave a change at taking the title.

Hazlehurst (4-0), coached by Willie Brown, isthe biggest surprise so far this season. The Indians were comingoff a dismal 1-10 campaign in 1999.

If Professor Hoopla, B.S., can avoid the buffet bar at localrestaurants, he has a chance at reducing his waist line. On theprognosticating side of the ledger, Hoopla posted a much-improved19-5-0 record last week. Give credit to the taco salad atWendy’s.

Hoopla dropped off his list of weekend winners yesterdayafternoon, after dining at the Bowie Smokehouse. He’ll start withtwo Thursday night community college specials.

Co-Lin at Mississippi Delta: Mosquitoes are as big ashornets in Moorhead and the Trojans’ defense looms much larger.Delta 14-7.

Jones County at Southwest: Bobcats are down this yearand the Bears are up, aiming for a state playoff berth. Southwest29-6.

Humphreys County at Brookhaven: Panthers must slow theCowboys’ potent offensive attack and score some points of theirown, too. Brookhaven 28-21.

Central Private at Brookhaven Academy: Despite theirwinless record, the Rebels have some potential. Central Private14-12.

Bogue Chitto at Loyd Star: Possum Bowl Week is a popularcommodity in Lincoln County. Possum burgers will be available atthe concession stand. Meanwhile, on W.E. “Sambo” Smith Field, theHornets prevail by a possum’s whisker. Loyd Star19-13.

Salem at Wesson: Homecoming brings out the best in theCobras. Wesson 27-6.

West Lincoln at Clarkdale: The Bears, with two victoriesalready under their belts, are on a roll. West Lincoln18-14.

South Pike at Lawrence County: In a nail-biter, theCougars eke out a win. Lawrence County 21-20.

In other area action, Wilkinson County should take NorthPike 21-12, Hazlehurst should ambush Port Gibson 28-21 forhomecoming, McComb should trounce Terry 29-7, Parklane should dumpCentreville 27-14 and Prentiss Christian School should spoil CopiahAcademy’s homecoming 28-6. Enterprise and Franklin County have opendates to scout the opposition.

Southern Miss at Oklahoma State: Golden Eagles mustovercome a big letdown after beating Alabama on the road. SouthernMiss 23-16.

Mississippi State at South Carolina: A huge crowdwatches the Gamecocks shock the Bulldogs in Williams-Brice Stadium.South Carolina 21-14.

In other Magnolia State games, Southern University willclip Jackson State 28-20, Belhaven will stop Lambuth 17-7, McNeeseState will inundate Alcorn State 48-12, Delta State will edge NorthAlabama 21-17, Millsaps will beat Bethel 14-7, Mississippi Collegewill dump Howard Payne 28-10, and Grambling will mash Valley State38-8. Ole Miss has an open date to get Deuce McAllisterhealthy.