Corder: TE-AC hype boiling over this week

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Say what? You want a prediction on the Miss-Lou Melee between ACCS and Trinity Episcopal Saturday?

I’ll take a get-out-of-jail-free card on that one. I’d much rather turn my organs over to science while breathing than be sliced open by Saint or Rebel die-hards and have them remove them for me.

Former Trinity head coach Jack Benson on the other hand is old school. We’re talking Bear Bryant-take-a-sip-of-that-water-and-cry-home-to-mama old school.

Email newsletter signup

After coaching in most of these AC-Trinity melodramas, usually opposite Bobby Marks, he’s happy to Jimmy &uot;The Greek&uot; it.

&uot;Trinity is going to come out on top,&uot; said Benson, whose last loss to AC was a 26-14 defeat at the WCCA Jamboree in 1995. &uot;Trinity has some fine athletes, but AC has been improving and it should be competitive.&uot;

Marks remembers fondly the years bonfires lit the southwest Mississippi night throughout the week leading up to the furnace on the field; the times dummies of AC and Trinity’s top players hanged from goalposts on the reciprocal school’s campus.

&uot;Nobody ever ended up getting hurt, but it got raunchy at times,&uot; Marks said. &uot;You always thought people were going to kill somebody, but it was always very friendly. We used to be fired up. I look forward to a sellout crowd. I hope it’ll be a sportinglike game.&uot;

Marks’ voice hinted at anxiety he feels toward Saturday’s game. The last time Marks was a part of a Rebels-Saint clash was in 1991, when his AC team pounded the Saints 27-0 in an actual opener for both squads.

His favorite memory of the series dates back to the mid-1970s as head coach of AC’s predecessor Thomas Jefferson. On the eve of the TE-TJ hype boiling over, TJ hosted a junior varsity jamboree, which Saint varsity players came over to taunt TJ players, particularly running back Allen Mardis.

&uot;Y’all might beat us tomorrow night, but you’re not going to do anything against us,&uot; Saint players told Mardis.

Thomas Jefferson proceeded to run for a school record 550 yards, more than 300 of which the 150-pound Mardis amassed in a 40-2 drubbing of Trinity.

&uot;We weren’t trying to run up the score,&uot; Marks said. &uot;They threw a couple of interceptions.&uot;

Since at least 1993 Trinity has lost six consecutive contests until the rivalry was laid to rest in 1998. The last four current Huntington assistant coach Bo Swilley coached the Rebels.

The closest little brother ever got to defeating big brother was the 1998 season, in which first-year head coach David King led his Saints to a 0-0 tie at the AC Jamboree. King blamed Trinity’s subsequent 18-0 loss to Chamberlain-Hunt, in the same jamboree, on the fire he stoked in his players for the AC game.

&uot;There’s a lot of pressure on you as a coach to win,&uot; said Swilley, who was 3-0-1 as one-half of the rivalry. &uot;Even if there was a tie, your folks looked at you like you had lost the ball game. It’s for bragging rights for the rest of the school year. It ought to be a good game with two really good football teams.&uot;

Chuck Corder

is a sports writer for The Natchez Democrat. You can reach him at (601) 445-3633 or by e-mail at