Dusting off the Possum Trophy

Published 5:00 am Friday, September 11, 2009

The Possum Bowl Trophy sits on a concrete block windowsill inthe corner of the Loyd Star field house, gathering dust andpreserving memories. The small, stuffed gray mouse/possum that oncesat atop the trophy has disappeared.

It’s time to dust off that trophy and get ready for the renewalof the series. Possum Bowl 2009 arrives Friday night at BogueChitto. It’s been nine years since the two Lincoln County rivalshave met on the gridiron and competed for the coveted prize.

Former Loyd Star football coach Roe Burns was instrumental instarting the Possum Bowl tradition. Living and coaching inbasketball-crazy Lincoln County, Burns wanted to create a higherlevel of football interest.

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Coaches always are looking for gimmicks to fire up their teamand focus on more Friday night football fever.

Contacted Wednesday afternoon, Burns rehashed some Possum Bowlmemories for this column. “It was 1984, the same year we won theMid-South Bowl,” beating the Mize Bulldogs.

Loyd Star’s Hornets started slowly that season, going 2-2 intheir first four games. They did have a 34-0 win over Wesson.Basketballs already were bouncing off the goals in the gymnasium.It was far too early to be talking basketball instead offootball.

“Bogue Chitto had a real good team that year,” Burns recalled.”They were undefeated,” in Coach Ricky Deere’s first year at thehelm.

The Bobcats were 4-0 at the time. “We won it 8-6,” said Burns,making it a happy homecoming at Loyd Star.

“Bogue Chitto beat us the next year,” said Burns. “Then we wonit about eight years in a row.”

After Burns retired from coaching in 1999, Loyd Star graduateAnthony Hart returned to his alma mater and realized more success.Hart coached the Hornets to a lopsided 41-8 victory over theBobcats in 2000.

Burns said Loyd Star assistant coach Rickey Smith “knew peoplewho liked to hunt possums.”

Passing it off as a student prank, Burns hatched a creativeplan. “We hung one (possum) on the goal posts. They (carcasses)were there Monday morning. Then there was another one in the schoolcourtyard.”

“We left it (possum) hanging there (goal posts) until Wednesdayand moved it under the visitors’ bleachers,” Burns chuckled. “Itwas starting to get kind of raunchy.”

Student bodies from both schools happily embraced the PossumBowl tradition. There were possum pranks and possum treats. Oneconcession stand advertised possum burgers.

There was a Possum Bowl Beauty Pageant, too.

While performing his Monday morning, Labor Day exercise routine,Professor Hoopla B.S. stumbled upon a dead possum in the road. Wasthat an omen of things to come?

Who knows?

Hoopla knows he predicted the winners of 17 football game lastweek and got 15 correct. That performance qualifies him for thePrognosticators Hall of Fame.

Hoopla provides a preview of this weekend’s winners, startingwith a Thursday night, community college special.

Gulf Coast at Southwest: Defending state champion Bulldogs areon a roll after losing their season opener at Northwest. Bearsabsorb a whipping in Hurst Stadium tonight. Gulf Coast 34-9.

Brookhaven at Lawrence County: It’s a catfight in Monticello asold rivals collide near the Pearl River. Cougars hang on for aclose victory. Lawrence County 28-21.

Amite School Center at Brookhaven Academy: A powerful air attacksends the Rebels back to Liberty in a suitcase. Brookhaven Academy44-12.

Loyd Star at Bogue Chitto: Possum Bowl XVII kicks off on TroySmith Field and Hornets remain unbeaten in four games. Loyd Star30-16.

Natchez Cathedral at Enterprise: Fighting Yellow Jacketsresemble Limping Yellow Jackets after sustaining three serious kneeinjuries in last week’s win over West Lincoln. Jackets make it 2straight victories. Enterprise 26-18.

West Lincoln at Pelahatchie: Bears don’t have enough depth tocompete with the Chiefs. Pelahatchie 29-12.

West Marion at Wesson: Cobras showcase their offense in StoneStadium. Wesson 33-10.

In other area games, Hazlehurst over Wingfield 32-8, FranklinCounty over South Pike 28-18, McComb over North Pike 26-12,Starkville Academy over Parklane Academy 22-10, Jefferson Countyover Crystal Springs 31-14 and Pisgah over Copiah Academy29-20.

Saturday’s collegiate scores should go like this.

Co-Lin at Jones County: Bobcats use their home field advantageto claim a win over the Wolfpack. Jones County 26-17.

Mississippi State at Auburn: Should be a close game on thePlains. Auburn 23-20.

Central Florida at Southern Miss: Offensively, the Golden Eaglesknow how to score. Southern Miss 34-21.

Other Magnolia State games: Tennessee State over Jackson State28-19, Delta State over Arkansas-Monticello 34-12, Belhaven overMillsaps 23-21, and Mississippi College over Cumberlands 17-7. OleMiss, Alcorn State and Valley State have open dates to combat theflu.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O. BOX551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mail sports@dailyleader.com