College, prep football at its best this week

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 6, 2000

College football at its best abounded last Saturday. And one of the best games was the Tennessee-USM thriller, albeit a 19-16 setback for the impressive Golden Eagles.

Then there was Ole Miss’ 49-20 victory over a Tulane team that would not give up, and Mississippi State’s 17-3 defensive gem past a Memphis ball club that didn’t know &uot;give&uot; either.

Credit coach Jeff Bower’s Eagles with hanging with favored Tennessee in a great television contest. What this means to me is that the Vols are strong, and so is USM.

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There is no telling the factor the searing heat played in all games last Saturday. It’s hot on both teams, of course. And the fans, for sure.

USM didn’t come in looking for easy pickings this season; Alabama follows Tennessee this Saturday, and that won’t be easy, either. UCLA’s 35-24 win over Alabama was supposed to be an upset, but I don’t know about that. Both teams looked okay to me.

Heisman hopeful Deuce McAllister’s marks were pretty good against a Tulane team bent on stopping him in Oxford. His three TDs were imposing, but his 29 rushing yards weren’t. His versatility will be a factor in the voting, but his running will be most important. It must be good.

LSU naturally had an easy time with Western Carolina, but Houston might be another matter. I’m taking the Tigers, though. Ole Miss won’t find Tommy Tuberville’s Auburn Tigers easy, but something tells me the pretty good-looking Rebels will win on TV at Oxford.

Alabama will be chomping at the bit when Vanderbilt comes calling Saturday, and will likely take the Commodores, while State prepares for BYU Sept. 14.

4It has been a while since so many first Miss-Lou high school football games were so exciting. Only CHA’s 47-0 romp over University Christian in Port Gibson was a blowout.

Madison-Ridgeland used its precious few remaining seconds to nip Natchez’s Adams County Christian Rebels 27-26 here in town, and Rebel coach Bo Swilley bemoaned his lack of time management near the last of the thriller. But that’s football.

Not only that, but MRA is nearly always very strong, and if the Patriots are powerful again, it could bode well for the Rebs down the road. They have lost three in a row now, though, and always-loaded Centreville comes to Rebel Field next Friday night.

Natchez High, too, fell after a gallant effort, and again, the Bulldogs’ 34-27 last-minute loss to highly-regarded Gulfport could very well mean that coach Elbert &uot;Mo&uot; Lyles of the Dawgs has things going in the right direction over NHS way.

And the Trinity Saints were tough all over in their 28-24 loss to Wilkinson County Academy. Saints coach David King is building toward better things, I believe. He knew what his team faced in WCCA, but he knows things could get better. That’s the norm in prep football: things will probably get better.

And the 8-6 Vidalia squeaker over Franklin County could be the victory to launch the Vikings to a really good season, which is still only probable at this stage. Defense was the name of the game, and that’s because both schools lean on that aspect for their games as a general rule. Wait and watch, high school football is the purest of sports. And Viking skipper Dee Faircloth subscribes to that.

Glenvall Estes is a long-time sports columnist for The Natchez Democrat.