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Important games heating up region

Region football action. It’s better known as playing forkeeps.

Call it region, district or division; the bottom line is: VeryImportant Games. Under the new classification system established bythe Mississippi High School Activities Association, most footballteams are facing a new lineup of region opponents.

In Brookhaven’s case, the new menu is called Region 3-5A. Underthis format, the Panthers were kicked up a notch in classificationto accommodate Class 6A which comprises the 32 largest schools inMississippi.

Back to BHS and Region 3-5A, the new region foes are West Jones,Wayne County, Stone County, Picayune and Pearl River Central. Theholdovers from the old Region 6-4A group are McComb and ForestHill.

Besides 1-way, 2-hour road trips, the strength of schedule isintimidating. West Jones invades King Field Friday night and theMustangs are loaded.

Next week, the Panthers visit Waynesboro to face powerhouseWayne County.

West Jones used to belong to Region 4-4A and athleticdirector/head football coach Scott Pierson recognizes the negativesin the new classification. Travel is the main factor, plus the lossof revenue.

“We used to take in $70-80,000 for our home games,” saidPearson. “Now, we’ll be lucky to make $40,000.

The wise administrator knows this fact by heart. Football sellsmore tickets than any other sport in the athletic department. Infact, other sports benefit from the football revenue.

That’s one reason schools like Bogue Chitto, Enterprise, WestLincoln and Loyd Star were happy to see realignment. In the past,1A members were locked into a 10-game region football schedule thatincluded Pisgah, Puckett, Pelahatchie, Mount Olive, Vicksburg St.Aloysius, Dexter, Salem and Stringer.

The competition was fierce but the gate receipts were awful,a.k.a., less than profitable. Some football programs were losingmoney.

Making the best of an opportunity to revive local rivalries,Bogue Chitto and Loyd Star brought back the Possum Bowl. Mt.Hermon, La., in its second year of varsity football, suddenlybecame a homecoming favorite for area teams.

Loyd Star remained in Region 6-2A, along with Enterprise,Wesson, Hinds AHS, and Madison St. Joseph. Puckett joined theregion, making it stronger than in the past.

Certainly, rivalry games are important in these difficultfinancial times. Playing away games an hour’s drive or less fromhome are valuable, too.

Meanwhile, Professor Hoopla B.S., was trying to find his wayhome after kayaking on the Bogue Chitto River. His mud-stained listof predictions was found in a leaky, plastic bag.

Hoopla predicted the winners of 22 games last week and missedonly 2. Special congratulations to the unbeaten Wesson Cobras whobeat Sumrall on the road at Oak Grove.

This week Hoopla begins his fearless forecast with two Thursdaynight specials.

East Central at Southwest: Bears are determined to win withdefense. Southwest 9-7.

Ole Miss at South Carolina: Rebels encounter a stiff test on theroad as they try to protect their No. 4 national ranking. In asqueaker, Ole Miss 17-10.

West Jones at Brookhaven: It looks like an epic struggle on KingField as the Mustangs escape with a narrow win. West Jones21-14.

Simpson County at Brookhaven Academy: Concentrating on defensein practice this week, the host Cougars prevail in a battle ofClass AA unbeatens. Brookhaven Academy 22-20.

Bogue Chitto at St. Aloysius: In a Region 4-1A showdown, theFlashes eke out a win. St. Al 24-19.

Mt. Hermon, La. at Enterprise: It’s homecoming on Harry ColeField and the home folks go home happy. Enterprise 45-12.

Dexter at West Lincoln: Bulldogs escape with a triumph over theBears. Dexter 34-24.

Florence at Wesson: Cobras must play their best to author ahomecoming triumph. Wesson 31-18.

Mendenhall at Franklin County: Once a powerhouse, the Tigershave fallen on hard times. Franklin County 42-12.

Lawrence County at Quitman: If the field is dry, the scoreboardcould blow a fuse. Lawrence County 45-40.

In other area action, Copiah Academy over Central Hinds 31-20,Hazlehurst over Port Gibson 49-6, Wilkinson County over CrystalSprings 18-12, Picayune over McComb 45-8, North Pike over AmiteCounty 31-14, South Pike over Jefferson County 32-16 and Parklaneover Adams County Christian School 46-12. Loyd Star has an opendate to enjoy its 5-0 start.

After sipping a Diet Sunkist, Hoopla looks at Saturday’sMagnolia State collegiate scene.

Co-Lin at Coahoma: Picturesque Clarksdale is the location of thecommunity college contest as the Wolfpack outscores the hostTigers. Co-Lin 36-16.

LSU at Mississippi State: Expect the Bulldogs to play a strongfirst half before running out of gas against the talented Tigers.LSU 32-17.

Southern Miss at Kansas: Slighted by the AP Top 25, the GoldenEagles gather more respect with a difficult road victory. USM28-21.

In other Magnolia State action, Southern University over AlcornState 38-10, Alabama State over Valley State 28-6, Delta State overOuachita Baptist 27-14, Hardin-Simmons over Mississippi College23-20, Belhaven over Bethel 22-17, and Millsaps over Trinity 21-14.Jackson State has an open date to pacify its disgruntledalumni.

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