Thursday, September 8, 2005

Hurricane Katrina causes schedule changes

By BARRY BURLESON
Editor

Clifford Brown and Gaylon Jones were not coaching football on the first Friday night in September.

That’s unusual, but they understood. It was not high on the priority list in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“Football is just a game,” said Brown, in his first season as the head coach of the Holly Springs High School Hawks. “Football is secondary to people’s lives and homes.”

Only a few games involving public high schools were played Friday. Ennis Proctor, executive director of the Mississippi High School Activities Association, declared Wednesday of last week that the season would be extended a week, with last Friday’s contests being postponed until September 9. He also gave teams facing out-of-state opponents the option of playing.

“There’s a lot of grief in our state,” said Jones, head coach of the Byhalia High School Indians. “Football games are not all that important.”

The Hawks lost 41-0 to a highly-ranked Lafayette County team in week one.

“I’m pleased that the kids came out and gave a better effort in the second half,” Brown said. “They’ve had to go through so many changes (four head coaches in four years). The kids have endured a lot.

“We didn’t play as well as we had practiced, but we’re very young (only 10 seniors).

“Lafayette is a very established program. They have everything going that we’re trying to get going.”

Brown said his Hawks, who visit Ripley this Friday, Sept. 9, had solid practice sessions last week.

“The kids have perked up a bit, and we’ve had a great week of practice,” Brown said Friday. “They’re paying attention to the small things, and we’re looking forward to the next game.”

He said the unanticipated open week also gave his team “the chance to work out some kinks and get some kids healed up.”

Holly High will also play a five-game junior varsity schedule. The JVs were scheduled to host Lafayette on Tuesday night of this week.

“We want to develop that program; we have to to be successful,” Brown said.

The Indians will face Ackerman this Friday night, Sept. 9, in their home opener. Ackerman did not have classes any last week due to the storm, plus it had a fuel shortage. And the schedule being pushed back a week means Byhalia will not play Chester County, Tenn., its originally scheduled September 9 opponent.

“We’re on the hunt for a substitute game,” Jones said. “We could be losing a home game. We hope there’s another team out there facing a similar schedule problem who we can play.”

Jones said the rest of the season will work itself out.

“We’re glad we didn’t have any damage here, and this (the football schedule) is a minor thing with all our state is going through right now.”

Jones said some of his players have been helping out the Byhalia Red Cross Shelter, set up at the old gymnasium downtown.

“This (the destruction of Hurricane Katrina) puts things into perspective,” he said.

He expects Ackerman to bring a big crowd to town Friday night. Both teams come in 0-1, Byhalia falling 41-6 to Lake County, Tenn., and Ackerman losing 41-13 to Carthage.

“It’s been much more difficult to get the kids focused this week,” Jones said Friday, “once we found out we were not going to play. Hopefully, we will get more focused.”


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