BHS-McComb feud goes back 91 years

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dusting off the old newspaper files orcombing through computer memory banks, the task can be arduous andtedious at the same time. Mississippi sports historian Will Watsonhas spent countless hours researching the McComb-Brookhaven highschool football rivalry.

    According to Watson’s research, the Panthers-Tigers feud, nowrecognized as the  I-55 CatFight, first began in 1920. That’s 91 years ago.

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    Think about it for a moment. Seventeen-year-old seniors in 1920would be 108 years old today. If any of them are alive, do theyknow who was the BHS coach at that time?

    It might have been a Smith, a Case or a Jones. Who knows?

    Wish we had the answer.

    Watson believes the McComb-Brookhaven rivalry is the longestrunning in the Magnolia State. Friday night will be the 96threnewal. McComb owns a 55-36-5 lead in the series.

    Personally, our first-person witnessing began in 1970, some 41years ago. In the 1940s-50s, the game was played on ThanksgivingDay. Folks  would bundle up(yes, it does get cold in Mississippi) and head for either McCombor Brookhaven for an afternoon game. Caravans of cars made the30-mile journey up or down Highway 51.

    In the 1950s, BHS was producing standout athletes like JoeTuminello, Harol Lofton, Lance Alworth, Ralph “Catfish” Smith andDon “Red” Estes. Those were glorious times for building footballlegends.

    From 1950-60, Brookhaven was 3-7 versus McComb. The Tigers had somegreat players, too.

    Moving to the 21st century, BHS has won the last four encountersand six of the last 10.


    On a nostalgic note, the late Don Estes will be honored thisweekend at LSU where he played on the 1961 SEC championship team.Representing him will be his wife, Shirley, and their son Brian whoalso is the son of the late Barbara Nations Jumonville ofBrookhaven.

    The 1986 LSU team that won the SEC title also will be honored byfamily and friends Friday night at a reception. Shirley and Brianwill be among the honorees at Saturday’s LSU-Kentucky game during apregame ceremony at midfield.

    Don Estes was a preseason All-SEC selection at tackle and he playedprofessional football for a few years. He also played in theCollege All-Star Game when the collegians defeated the Green BayPackers.


    Meanwhile, Professor Hoopla B.S., is trying to climb a tree inpreparation for the opening of bow hunting season for deer. Somefolks who disagree with his predictions have called him “Nuts.”

    Hoopla predicted the winners of 23 games last week and managed toget 17 right. He’ll start this weekend’s prognostications with aThursday night special.

    Southwest at Co-Lin: The old rivalry heats up again in StoneStadium as the Wolves shave the Bears. Co-Lin 17-14.

    McComb at Brookhaven: Friday night lights illuminate this showdownon King Field. Panthers by a whisker. Brookhaven 21-20.

    Bogue Chitto at Salem:     Streaking Bobcats climb to 7-0 with a big win in Walthall County.Bogue Chitto 24-12.

    Brookhaven Academy at Oak Forest:      Cougars invade Amite, La. andoutscore the Yellow Jackets. Brookhaven Acdemy 35-20.

    Madison St. Joe at Loyd Star: Bruins spoil the Hornets’ homecomingcelebration on “Sambo” Smith Field. St. Joe 31-17.

    East Iberville at West Lincoln:      After a 21/2-hour bus ride, theTigers start slow but finish fast to burst the Bears’ homecomingbubble. East Iberville 29-12.

    Enterprise at Puckett: Wolves are rebuilding but they’ve got plentyof muscle left to handle the Yellow Jackets. Puckett 48-13.

    North Pike at Lawrence County: In a key region 4A game for bothteams, the Jaguars prove superior. North Pike 29-19.

    Wesson at Amite County: After an open date, the rejuvenated Cobrasare ready to pursue a region championship. Wesson 30-12.

    Prentiss at Hazlehurst: High octane Indians are on a homecomingwarpath. Hazlehurst 44-14.

    Franklin County at Wilkinson County:      Bulldogs find happiness andcontinue their victory string in Woodville. Franklin County38-12.

    In other area action, Starkville Academy over Copiah Academy 31-10,Parklane over Hillcrest 45-12, Jefferson County over CrystalSprings 33-23 and Tylertown over South Pike 34-14.

    After polishing his crystal ball (forehead), Hoopla looks atSaturday’s college menu.

    Mississippi State at Georgia:      Pancakes and sausage make a greatbreakfast treat for this 11 a.m. contest in Athens as the MSUBulldogs fall short of expectations. Georgia 27-24.

    Ole Miss at Fresno State:      Rebels have a late Saturday nighton the West Coast as they absorb another setback. Fresno State28-20.

    Rice at Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles have rediscovered theiroffensive punch and defeather the Owls. Southern Miss 34-7.

    Alcorn State at Alabama State: Braves won’t find much success onthe road against a SWAC powerhouse. Alabama State 28-14.

    In other games, involving Magnolia State institutions of higherlearning: Southern U. over Valley State 38-13, Delta State overOuachita Baptist 33-10, Bethel over Belhaven 27-21 and Millsapsover Sewanee 23-12. Jackson State and Mississippi College have opendates to promote their soccer programs.


    Contact sports editor Tom Goetz by