Major event set for Hazlehurst

Published 6:00 am Thursday, December 1, 2005

Hazlehurst athletic directory Gary Tabor has been in the highschool sports business for 27 years. He has witnessed several statechampionship events along the way.

Friday night’s Class 3A South State championship game betweenHazlehurst and South Pike could be the biggest sporting event toever take place in Copiah County. A crowd of 5,000-plus is expectedto surround Hazlehurst’s Todd McDaniel Field. The attendance couldbe much larger, depending on the weather.

“We are going to do everything possible to make everybodycomfortable,” said Tabor, during a Wednesday telephoneconversation. “We want to make it a pleasant experience. We areexpecting a huge crowd.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Tabor said as many as six portajohns will be available for theoverflow crowd. Concession stands will be open on both sides of thefield. Lines grow extra-long, especially if hot chocolate andcoffee are available.

Tabor said interest in the game has skyrocketed this week. “I’veheard from people all over the state, asking me about tickets.”

Ticket prices, set by the Mississippi High School ActivitiesAssociation, are $7 each. Tabor said he sent 1,000 tickets to SouthPike. Officials at the Magnolia-based school said that amount wouldbe sold the first day of ticket sales.

According to Tabor, last Friday’s home playoff game againstGreene County attracted a paid attendance of 1,973. Throw in twobands, teachers, cheerleaders, county passes, and other courtesypasses, and the number climbs past 2,500.

Hazlehurst coach Willie Brown is directing an outstanding squad.The Indians are blessed with lightning speed and an abundance oftenacity.

“No guts, no glory,” is the team’s motto.

The Indians have recorded 7 shutouts this season, including lastweek’s 34-0 trouncing of Greene County. They swarm thefootball.

South Pike, under the direction of Hazlehurst native RandallHuffman, has posted some impressive numbers this season, too. Theyare led by MVP quarterback Kelsey Island and all-state linebackerDeWayne Pittman.

Almost everyday, Huffman makes the daily commute from Hazlehurstto Magnolia on his 650 cc Yamaha motorcycle. It’s great on gas, andit gives him time to unwind.

Copiah Academy of Gallman seeks a Mississippi Private SchoolAssociation Class AA state championship tonight at MississippiCollege in Clinton. The Colonels meet powerhouse Simpson CountyAcademy at 7 p.m., on MC’s new Sprint Turf artificial surface.

The Colonels (11-1), coached by second-year head coach MitchMitchell, have shown steady improvement this season. When they weresophomores, this senior group finished 2-10.

Brookhaven Academy graduate Herbert Davis, Jr., will lead hisColumbus Heritage Academy Patriots against Starkville Academy inthe Division II AAA state championship game Friday afternoon at1:30. Davis was the offensive backfield coach at NorthwestCommunity College last year, serving on Bobby Franklin’s staff.Franklin retired and Davis returned to Heritage where he continueda successful program.

During Monday’s MPSA Football Championship Media Conference,Coach Ricky Black of Jackson Prep expressed his sentiments to thelarge throng best.

“Congratulations to all the coaches and players here today,”said Black. “You should cherish this day. You’ll remember it 25years from now and it will mean even more.”

Black, whose Prep Patriots play unbeaten Jackson Academy Fridaynight in a Division I AAA championship, hit the nail on the head.Win or lose these state championship events are special. Just toget this far is a great accomplishment, win or lose in the titlegame.

Win or lose, Professor Hoopla B.S., was still on his feet whenhe dropped off an abbreviated list of football predictions. He’llpick two high school games and the winner of Saturday’s SECchampionship game.

Copiah Academy vs. Simpson Academy: Colonelsderail the Cougars’ quest for a 3-peat. Copiah 17-14.

South Pike at Hazlehurst: A record crowedwitnesses an offensive showcase Friday night. In an upset,Hazlehurst 28-26.

LSU vs. Georgia: Tigers showcase their truetalents Saturday in Atlanta, beating the Bulldogs in the SEC titleshowdown. LSU 24-14.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602, or