Hunting the old Bogue Chitto football team

Published 6:00 am Thursday, December 20, 2001

Understandably, Coach Carl Cole of Bogue Chitto has a footballmentality. His Bobcats are coming off the most successful campaignin the school’s history. They are enjoying the rewards of an 11-2season and reaching the semifinals of the South State Class 1Aplayoffs.

In his spare time, Cole is a sports history buff. In a recentconversation with this columnist, Cole revealed a keen interest inBogue Chitto football history. According to his information, BogueChitto fielded a football team in the mid to late 1930s.

Finding out more information on a Bogue Chitto football teamthat played nearly 70 years ago is a difficult task. Most of thoseplayers have passed on, going to that great gridiron in thesky.

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Cole has talked to several elderly Bogue Chitto residents aboutthose old teams. Some of the eyewitnesses were in elementary schoolat the time. Yes, they remember a football team. Yes, uncleso-and-so played on the team. But he’s dead now.

If history is correct, the Bogue Chitto team disbanded in thelate 1930s. World War II started on Dec. 7, 1941. The footballequipment was sold and basketball became a top priority foryoungsters growing up in southern Lincoln County.

“Somewhere, somebody must have some old newspaper clippings putaway in a trunk or drawer,” said Cole. “There must be some recordin a yearbook of who they played.”

The difficult part is finding that information. Sherlock Holmesis unavailable for an in depth investigation. Cole would love tohear from anyone having information on those first Bogue Chittofootball teams.

Football didn’t become an organized sport at Bogue Chitto againuntil the mid 1960s. That’s when Enterprise and Loyd Star decidedto take up the gridiron ritual, too.

West Lincoln didn’t start playing football until four years agoand the evolution of that sport at a highly regarded basketballsanctuary has been difficult at best. The Bears blindly plungedhead-long into varsity competition and reaped the expectedconsequences.

After three head coaching changes and four seasons later, WestLincoln is still learning what it takes to be successful on thefootball field. The Bears went winless in 11 games this season butit wasn’t because of a lack of effort. Certainly, the lads playedhard and did their best.

Coach Roe Burns officially resigned as head coach at WestLincoln this week after one year at the helm. He had ended a briefone-year retirement from coaching after directing the Loyd Starprogram for 20 years. Burns had a series of highly successfulseasons at Loyd Star, taking them to the state playoffs.

At West Lincoln, Burns inherited a difficult situation,including a beefed up schedule. Football powers like Mize, Mt.Olive and Stringer were added to form Region 4-1A. Throw in NatchezCathedral, Vicksburg St. Aloysius, Bogue Chitto, Enterprise, Dexterand Salem and the road got rougher.

“We feel like we’ve joined the SEC.”

Although the Bears showed much improvement, the schedule wasmuch more difficult. Bogue Chitto and Enterprise, for example,enjoyed banner campaigns. The Bears were the region doormats.

Burns is optimistic about West Lincoln’s future. He said thereis plenty of strong community support. The field, named in honor ofPerry Miller, gets better each day the sun shines and the grassgrows. The stadium, concession area and field house are aboveaverage for a 1A school.

A part-time cattle farmer, Burns takes particular pride in thenew practice field at West Lincoln. In the past the Bears had topractice on the game field and the constant use made it as hard asasphalt. He plowed the field deep and planted plenty of grass seed,plus lots of fertilizer.

At 54 years of age, Burns has many good days ahead of him inretirement. He and his wife, Kay, have three grown children. Theiroldest son, Brooks, is an assistant football coach at NortheastJones. Son Brodie is a junior at Ole Miss, serving as a studentmanager for the football team. Daughter Kami is married to BradBumgarner and teaches in the Clinton school system.

According to Burns, West Lincoln has a promising junior highteam moving up to the varsity. The Bears also have 1,000-yardrusher Stacy Fells returning for his senior campaign.

Burns hopes West Lincoln will hire a young, energetic coach tolead the Bears. Most importantly, they need a coach with a strongfootball knowledge who is willing to make a commitment to theprogram. It’s going to take time for the Bears to become titlecontenders.

Look for South Pike to be the team to beat in the 2002 Region6-4A race. The Eagles finished runners-up to Clarksdale in theClass 4A state championship game, losing 13-0.

Ran into South Pike defensive coordinator Randall Huffman at alocal store. He was in the hunting department, looking at differentdeer scent products. He had seen a trophy buck on his property andwas making plans for a successful hunt.

Huffman said he will have eight starters returning on defense.South Pike should be strong on offense, too. Most of the offensiveline will be back and the ninth grade team was outstanding. Lookslike Greg Wall will have another title contender.