ACCS and Trinity should patch things up

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 26, 2010

My first job after graduating college was at a small weekly newspaper in Philadelphia, called the Neshoba Democrat.

For those of you who don’t know, Philadelphia is located in Neshoba County up in east central Mississippi, about 45 minutes north of Meridian.

During my year-and-a-half working at the newspaper, I got quite familiar with the rivalry between Philadelphia High School and Neshoba Central High School.

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The schools are located less than two miles apart, with Philadelphia sitting in downtown, and Neshoba Central right outside the city limits.

While Philadelphia is a Class 3A school and Neshoba Central resides in Class 5A, the two schools have competed against each other in all sports for more than 50 years.

But unfortunately, that ended earlier this week when the Neshoba County school board announced that there would be no games scheduled between the two schools for at least two years.

This comes after 11 Neshoba Central students were arrested and charged with felony malicious mischief after allegedly causing $20,000 in damage to a house a few days before the rivalry football game a few weeks ago.

Then, during the game, a member of the Neshoba Central band was injured in an incident with some Philadelphia football players.

The Philadelphia coaches and school were each fined $500 by the MHSAA for failing to keep their players in the end zone while the Neshoba Central band was completing its halftime show.

These incidents have been building for years. I saw it when I was there. Generally no love is lost between the two schools.

But somehow along the way, the good-natured rivalry evolved into nasty vitrol that resulted in 11 students charged with a felony and another student injured.

Rivalries are a great thing, but it’s not too hard for them to get out of hand when the passions get boiling too hot.

And perhaps that also has happened here in Natchez.

For a while, Trinity Episcopal and Adams County Christian had a hot rivalry from time to time, but the two schools have not played each other the past two seasons following a very contentious football game in 2008 that included multiple personal foul penalties and three player ejections.

Stories differ as to why the schools haven’t played, but I think it all comes down to the hot passion of rivalry boiling over.

Unfortunately, many times fans and players will take the emotion of playing a rival and let it affect them negatively instead of positively.

Cheering for your team turns into spewing venom at the other team, and that oftentimes leads to a rivalry spiraling out of control like the Philadelphia-Neshoba Central rivalry.

I’m not comparing the Trinity-ACCS rivalry to the Philadelphia-Neshoba Central debacle in any way, shape or form, but it would be nice to see the two schools patch things up and get back on the playing field again.

With the abundance of schools in the Miss-Lou, it’s a shame there aren’t more good rivalries.

Ferriday and Vidalia have a good rivalry across the river, Natchez and Jefferson County have a solid rivalry (more so in basketball) and Cathedral and St. Aloysius have been Catholic rivals for years, but it would really be nice for two schools inside of Natchez to rekindle the rivalry flame.

But when and if that does happen, please remember to keep the emotions positive and the school spirit clean.

Rivalries are a great thing for a community, but it only takes a few incidents to ruin it.