Possum Bowl kindles fierce football rivalry

Published 7:53 pm Thursday, September 9, 2010

“Remember the Possum Bowl!”

That battle cry echoes through the towering pine trees of ruralLincoln County.

The Possum Bowl was born in 1984. It wound up being the sameyear the Hornets beat Mize in the Mid-South Bowl on a rainyNovember night.

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A quarter of a century ago, football interest was mediocre atbest in basketball-rich Lincoln County. Coach Roe Burns was doinghis best to build enthusiasm in the Loyd Star football program. Hehatched an idea and it mushroomed from there. He shared his planwith assistant coach Rickey Smith.

“Coach Smith had some buddies who went hunting all the time,”said Burns. There was a bountiful possum harvest that weekend innorthwestern Lincoln County.

Burns said, “They got some (dead) possums. We put them in the(school) courtyard and hung them on the goal posts. That Fridayafternoon we took them and put them under the Bogue Chittobleachers. They were pretty raunchy by then.”

Bogue Chitto came into the game undefeated (5-0). The Bobcatswere coached by Ricky Deere at that time. The Hornets carried a 3-2record into the game.

“The kids saw those possums hanging from the goal posts and gotfired up,” said Burns. “We had a big crowd.

“Our goal was if we could keep it close going into the fourthquarter, we could win it.”

For the record, it wound up being an 8-6 defensive struggle. TheBobcats had led 6-0.

Burns recalled the game plan after the tying touchdown. “Then wefaked the extra point, went for two and got it.”

Bogue Chitto responded with vengeance and won the next twoPossum Bowls before Loyd Star won it again. An innovative coach,Burns came up with the Possum Bowl Trophy, complete with a stuffedpossum mounted on the trophy and the scores engraved on brassplates at the base. Loyd Star leads the series 14-3.

Dust began gathering on the trophy that rested in a corner ofthe field house. Loyd Star didn’t play the Bobcats or theEnterprise Yellow Jackets for several years because of the school’sgridiron superiority. One grizzled sports writer described it asLoyd Star and the Little Two.

Meanwhile, Professor Hoopla B.S., was counting the results oflast week’s fearless football forecast on his fingers and toes. Hepredicted the winners of 21 games and got 15 correct.

Here’s a preview of this weekend’s games, starting with fourThursday night specials. He’ll start with a pair of junior collegecontests.

Holmes at Co-Lin: Fresh from a season-opening win, the Wolfpackmaintains its victory streak with an improved offensive attack.Co-Lin 24-14.

Northwest at Southwest: It was the 20th century when the Bearslast defeated the Northwest Rangers. Maybe next year. Northwest31-17.

Arkansas Tech at Delta State: Statesmen regroup after losing toJackson State and post their first victory. Delta State 22-10.

Auburn at Mississippi State: In an upset special, the Bulldogsclang their cowbells and celebrate into the wee hours of Fridaymorning. State 28-21.

Speaking of Fridays, here are the high school game winners.

Lawrence County at Brookhaven: An offensiveshow entertains the large King Field crowd. Brookhaven 31-18.

Bogue Chitto at Loyd Star: Possum Bowlparaphernalia, featuring possum cookies and possum dip/chips areavailable at the concession stand. Hornets find a hard-earned win.Loyd Star 21-20.

Enterprise at Natchez Cathedral: Bombs away inD’Evereaux Stadium as the Green Wave fills the air with footballs.Cathedral 36-12.

Brookhaven Academy at Amite School Center: Lastyear the Cougars scored 65 points in a shutout massacre of theRebels. It could be closer this time. Brookhaven Academy 53-6.

Pelahatchie at West Lincoln: Chiefs conduct anoffensive clinic for the rebuilding Bears. Pelahatchie 37-8.

Wesson at West Marion: Cobras continue theirwinning record on the road in Foxworth. Wesson 26-12.

Franklin County at South Pike: Bulldogs areready to turn the corner and find the win column against thewinless Eagles. Franklin County 21-18.

In other area action, Hazlehurst over Wingfield 29-14, Tylertownover Vicksburg 28-17, McComb over North Pike 24-20, Pisgah overCopiah Academy 25-21, Jefferson County over Crystal Springs 33-14and Parklane over Starkville Academy 21-10.

After draining a 12-ounce can of Diet Sunkist, Hoopla revealsSaturday’s winners.

Ole Miss at Tulane: Rebels still are red-facedafter losing to Jacksonville State. That’s bad news for the GreenWave. Ole Miss 37-10.

Prairie View A&M at Southern Miss: GoldenEagles must assert themselves against one of the SWAC powerhouses.Southern Miss 35-19.

Jackson State at Tennessee State: Tigers willcome up short in Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium: Tennessee State28-20.

In other action, Mississippi College over Belhaven 22-12,Millsaps over LaGrange 21-7, and South Carolina State over ValleyState 29-6. The Alcorn State Braves have an open date to preparefor the SWAC campaign.

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