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Time for MHSAA to reclassify again

This is the time of year for rumors and speculation regardingenrollment and reclassification. Every two years the MississippiHigh School Activities Association reclassifies its members, basedon the number of students enrolled in grades 9-12.

Often, change is for the better. In athletics, sometimes it isfor the worst.

In this area, the last reclassification shook up some schools asthe MHSAA added Class 6A to its regiment. The top 32 schools inenrollment were listed as 6A and the next 32 were given Class 5Astatus. Brookhaven and McComb were promoted from Class 4A.

Suffering the consequences might best describe the 5A residencefor the Panthers and Tigers. Brookhaven and McComb were lumped inwith Wayne County, West Jones, Picayune, Stone County, Pearl RiverCentral and Jackson Forest Hill.

Once upon a time, BHS and McComb were the big fish in the littlepond, a.k.a. Region 6-4A. Now they are fighting for survival on thegridiron against heavyweights Picayune, Wayne County and WestJones. Region 3-5A often is referred to as the SEC of high schoolfootball in Mississippi.

Fourth place in Region 3-5A is something to brag about. ThePanthers and Tigers consider themselves on equal footing withregion opponents in other sports but football is the toughesthurdle.

To their credit, the Panthers do their best to be competitive.They played an inspired game against Wayne County last Fridaynight. The defense played with an aggressive attitude and bumpedhelmets with a highly ranked opponent. The War Eagles lost fourfumbles and were unable to establish their vaunted rushing attackagainst Brook’s hard-hitting defense.

The Panthers lost 27-20 and Ole Brook boss Tucker Peavey doesn’tlike moral victories. To their credit, the effort and score on KingField were quite respectable compared to the 45-7 blowout last yearwhen the Eagles ripped BHS for 621 yards total offense.

Back to reclassification, it would be nice if the three GulfCoast opponents could be replaced in Region 3-5A. Consider ForestHill’s fate. The Patriots have one heckuva region travel scheduleand are 60 miles from their closest region foe. It would be muchsimpler if they could remain in the Jackson area.

Rumor has it that Natchez is going to drop down from 6A to 5A.Geographically, that would be an ideal foe for Brook and McComb.Presently, Natchez must travel as far as Meridian and Hattiesburgfor region games.

In another reclassification note, West Lincoln was on the 2Abubble two years ago. That means the Bears could be promoted from1A this time around. Area teams like Enterprise, Loyd Star andWesson would love to have them in Region 6-2A.

The Bears have been struggling for 12 years in 1A football. Theprospects of a 2A region schedule are mind-boggling. By comparison,Enterprise was promoted to 2A four years ago and the Yellow Jacketsstill are hunting their first region win. For sure, it’s a toughrow to hoe.

Speaking of tough rows, Professor Hoopla B.S. was trying to hoehis garden and plant some broccoli yesterday but the ground was sodry and concrete-hard, he hardly scratched the surface. In otherwords, pray for rain.

Hoopla predicted the winners of 21 games last week and got 17right. He’s on a roll. Here’s a preview of this weekend’s winners,starting with two Thursday night specials.

Southwest at Northwest: Hard-luck Bears willlose another close one at Senatobia. Northwest 24-16.

Delta State at Arkansas-Monticello: Led byjunior quarterback Micah Davis, the D2 National Offensive Player ofthe Week, the Statesmen lay waste to the Boll Weevils. Delta State38-14.

Brookhaven at Pearl River Central: It’shomecoming in Carriere and the Blue Devils plot an ambush. Panthersby a whisker. Brookhaven 21-18.

Natchez Trinity at Brookhaven Academy: Inanother showdown of unbeaten teams, the Cougars absorb their firstsetback of the season. Trinity 32-24.

Wesson at Loyd Star: Cobras bring a perfectrecord to William E. “Sambo” Smith Field and depart with a 7-0 markafter defeating their archrivals. Wesson 27-13.

Sebastopol at Bogue Chitto: This big Region4-1A test will determine which Bobcat squad has a shot at theregion championship. Bogue Chitto 21-12.

Hinds AHS at Enterprise: Still limping after alopsided loss to powerful Puckett, the Yellow Jackets encounter aspeedy stable of Bulldogs. Hinds AHS 33-16.

West Lincoln at Natchez Cathedral: It’s AirWave in D’Evereaux Stadium as the Greenies unleash an awesomeaerial attack. Cathedral 52-12.

Lawrence County at Crystal Springs: Cougars areoverdue for a breather after dealing with a series of powerfulfoes. Lawrence County 41-8.

Franklin County at Hazlehurst: Indians capturea key Region 7-3A showdown as they pen the Bulldogs. Hazlehurst26-12.

In other area action, Wayne County will wax McComb 41-21, NorthPike will sink Port Gibson 32-14, Columbia over South Pike 19-12,Leake Academy over Copiah Academy 26-17, Wilkinson County overJefferson County 29-16, and Parklane over Bowling Green 33-12.

After inhaling a bag of boiled jumbo peanuts, Hoopla perusesSaturday’s collegiate scene, starting with a community collegespecial.

Pearl River at Co-Lin: In an epic homecomingstruggle, the unbeaten Wolfpack survive by a whisker in StoneStadium. Co-Lin 24-21.

East Carolina at Southern Miss: Homecomingbrings out the best in the Golden Eagles. Southern Miss 34-17.

Mississippi State at Houston: Bulldogs chalk uptheir third straight victory. State 38-19.

Alabama A&M at Jackson State: Tigersshowcase their passing attack. Jackson State 28-10.

In other Magnolia State action, Alcorn State over Texas Southern32-20, Southern U. over Valley State 28-8, Millsaps over Huntington31-10, Mississippi College over Hardin-Baylor 14-7, and Belhavenover Faulkner 20-10.

Ole Miss has an open date to get ready for Alabama.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O. Box551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mail sports@dailyleader.com