BA athletic future aims for public school games

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, December 23, 2010

All Brookhaven Academy wants for Christmas is some public schoolopponents in athletics for the 2011-12 academic year. Santa Clausknows that is a difficult request at such a short notice but hewill do his best to make the Cougars and Lady Cougars happy.

The Brookhaven Academy Board of Directors officially approved anew approach to athletic scheduling in a joint effort to reducetraveling expenses and increase finances. That recent edict drew around of applause from BA’s coaches and positive reaction from theschool’s enthusiastic and large fan base.

Now for the hard part.

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Some area public schools are interested in playing the Cougarsin football while others refuse to even consider that option. BAheadmaster and head coach Herbert Davis is enthusiastic about theopportunity.

Davis said the interest and gate receipts for a public/privateduel on the gridiron would be great. Both sides would benefit fromthe competition and the exposure. Remember, it’s just a game.

Unfortunately, some of the latest public opinions resemble theCold War years of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s when the USA and Russiawere rattling sabers and boycotting the Olympic Games. “I’d ratherbe dead than red,” was a popular slogan.

In our present secular society where tolerance is the credo andequality is expected for all citizens, public versus private stillfuels many debates. Roots and hard feelings run deep.

“It’s unfair,” proclaims a public school coach.

“Why should we help them recruit our players?”

On the flip side, fans have been chomping at the bit fordecades. “Man, I know we could whip their rear ends. I’d giveanything to play those private school kids.”

In reality, public and private school teams play each otherduring the summer months in softball, baseball and basketball. Theyaren’t necessarily officially playing under the name of aparticular school or athletic association. They compete in teamcamps and summer leagues. Players from opposing teams know eachother by their first names.

Football is a hot item in Mississippi. Competition is intense.Nothing compares to Friday night lights. Personally speaking, thiscolumn envisions some great competition between public and privateschools in the near future. There would be some great games towrite about.

Jackson Prep, considered to have one of the best athleticprograms in the private school ranks, has been playing publicschools for several years. Pearl, George County and Forest wereamong the opponents and they were played on a home and home basisin football.

Closer to home, Copiah Academy has played Pisgah in football thelast two seasons and the games have been close, with Pisgah winningboth of them. Wesson’s basketball teams have competed in theHillcrest Christian Tournament, playing several privateschools.

Lincoln County Superintendent of Education Terry Brister hastaken a neutral stance on the subject of public versus private. Hedoesn’t see a problem with scheduling games with privateschools.

However, Brister said all games must be approved by theprincipals of Bogue Chitto, Enterprise, Loyd Star and West Lincoln.Then the proposed game must be submitted to the Mississippi HighSchool Activities Association for the final stamp of approval.

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

On the contrary, read on.

West Lincoln refuses to play Brookhaven Academy in any sport andBrookhaven High School echoes that statement. Loyd Star feels thesame way but some of the coaches say there might be a chance in thefuture.

Bogue Chitto football coach Gareth Sartin said he would like toschedule the BA Cougars. However, Sartin’s Bobcats are locked intonine Class 1A district games next season under the latest MHSAAreclassification edict. The Bobcats will play Class 2A rivalsEnterprise and Loyd Star as their 10th and 11th games because thegates are large and the travel time is measured in minutes.

How about a jamboree?

Enterprise football coach Josh Garrett also expressed a sincereinterest in playing the Cougars. Only time will tell.

At Wesson, Coach Tommy Clopton’s Cobras are fresh from anoutstanding 10-2 campaign. Clopton, who also serves as the school’sathletic director, prefers not to play BA in football. Some folkshave wanted him to play Copiah Academy for several years.

Perhaps BA can get its foot in the public school door, usingpatience and persistence. Those invisible barriers have been up foryears and it could take a while longer to find a crack. Anopportunity to play some games at the junior high level mightmaterialize. It certainly would reduce travel time.

Potentially, a holiday basketball tournament between Christmasand New Year’s Day at Brookhaven Academy’s John R. Gray Gymnasiumwould be ideal for public versus private. Match up three localpublic and three area private school teams, girls and boys, onthree consecutive nights.

Yes, the tournament site could be rotated in Lincoln County.


Interest would be sky-high and the gymnasium would beoverflowing. It would be a fun experience.

In closing, this column wishes our readers a blessed Christmasholiday. Remember, Jesus is the reason for the season.

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