Second helping starts tonight

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

Football season is sort of like a three-course meal. Appetizers come first in the form of high school football, which started last week.

Next comes the main course &8212; college football, which comes tonight, finally. For Miss-Lou fans, we even have several teams of local interest kicking things off.

Alcorn will travel to face Louisiana-Monroe at 7 p.m., and we&8217;ll get our first chance to see what coach Johnny Williams&8217; bunch can do this season.

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Sylvester Croom and Mississippi State will also hit the field tonight in Starkville on ESPN at 7 when they take on Steve Spurrier&8217;s South Carolina Gamecocks.

Alcorn and Mississippi State both have plenty of question marks entering the season, and both will get tough tests early which will be sure to offer some answers.

It would be tough to expect a win over the ULM Warhawks for the Braves, but we will get quite a view of if the offensive line and secondary &8212; Thomas&8217; two biggest concerns heading into the season &8212; are developing as hoped.

The ultimate question in Starkville is simply when Croom will start winning. Signs aren&8217;t pointing to this year, and if things don&8217;t start improving it may be time to reevaluate why he was hired.

Croom is an excellent coach &8212; Bear Bryant hired him as an assistant, and the Bear didn&8217;t hire anyone he didn&8217;t think was a great coach. The question seems to be if he has the ability to recruit. Since he&8217;s arrived the Bulldogs seem to have gotten slower, and a lack of speed won&8217;t win you many games in the SEC.

Ole Miss, Southern Miss and LSU will all kick their seasons off Saturday.

Next, we only have to wait one more week for dessert &8212; the NFL. The Saints will open their 2006 schedule with a road trip to Cleveland to take on the Browns. Thus far the preseason has been far from stellar, and we can only hope New Orleans&8217; line play improves before the season opens.

Even with the presence of Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Deuce McCallister and Joe Horn, the offense won&8217;t get anything done without anyone to block for them. New head coach Sean Payton has his work cut out for him in getting the team ready.

The worst part is we&8217;ll have to wait another two weeks after the Cleveland game before the Saints finally play a home game. Their first game will be in the Superdome on a Monday night against the Falcons.

Who else is excited?

This is the best time of the year, and we&8217;ve only gotten the first taste of it.

Friday night, Natchez High, Trinity and Huntington served notice that they&8217;ll be forces to reckon with. ACCS put up a gritty performance against a very strong Centreville Academy team.

Vidalia and Ferriday will get their first shots to show the Miss-Lou what they&8217;re made of Friday.

Football season is only beginning, and you can be sure that these pages will have the best coverage you&8217;ve seen yet.

Tim Cottrell is the sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached by phone at 601-445-3632 or by e-mail at