ACCS and Trinity players impressed me

Published 12:01am Sunday, October 2, 2011

I’ll admit I had some preconceived notions coming into the Adams County Christian School and Trinity Episcopal game Sept. 23.

Since I didn’t move to Natchez until August 2009, the most recent matchup between the Rebels and the Saints was my first ever experience of the rivalry. But I had been told what to expect.

The story about the fight and subsequent ejections from the 2008 game was passed along to me by a number of people throughout the past two years. I had been told over and over again that the two schools simply didn’t like one another.

But for all the horror stories about fan behavior and kids getting into a fight, what I experienced two Fridays ago surprised me in some ways, and impressed me in other ways.

For a supposedly big rivalry game — not to mention a key district matchup — the crowds for both teams were surprisingly subdued. They cheered when their team had a big play or a big stop, but it never got out of hand.

Personally, I expected the crowd to be a bit louder and a bit more riled up. I also expected there to be more fans at the game overall, similar to the number that showed up for Cathedral versus ACCS at the start of the season. The stands for both the home and visitor’s sides were more full than empty, but it was by no means a packed house.

On the plus side, that meant emergency vehicles would have had an easier time getting in and out were they needed, since fans weren’t clogging ACCS’s track.

But what stood out to me most of all was the post-game prayer and high fives. In watching a number of the players, I got the sense that there was a lot of familiarity between the two squads. I’m sure both teams wanted to win badly, but once the game was over, the two teams were nothing but friendly toward one another.

That was evident by once instance in particular, where young ACCS running back Lester Wells went up to Trinity senior Tip McKenzie to shake his hand. Wells was recently moved up from the junior varsity squad, and looks to be a star athlete in the making once he gets older and fills out.

And I’m evidently not the only person who thinks that about Wells’ potential. When the two teams got together for prayer following the game, Trinity senior quarterback Scott Turner complimented Wells and told him he was “going to be someone in a few years.”

Both Trinity head coach David King and ACCS head coach Hunter McKeivier did an excellent job of coaching their players up while keeping things clean. The Rebels had just four penalties for negative 35 1/2 yards, while the Saints were penalized six times for minus 45 yards.

The young men for ACCS and Trinity left me quite impressed with their abilities to maintain their character along with having a competitive spirit. I’ve always been told that the bitterness between the two schools is driven more by the parents than the student bodies themselves.

Perhaps these same parents could take a cue from their own children and grow up a bit. That way, the Trinity and ACCS rivalry could be a good, competitive rivalry without all of the unnecessary drama.