Natchez High hosts Jefferson County High Friday
By Patrick Murphy
The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ — Move over Mississippi State and Ole Miss. There’s another rivalry in Mississippi. The U.S. 61 rivalry between Natchez High and Jefferson County.
Ever since head coach Roy Rigsby began coaching five years ago, he said the rivalry between the two teams has been intensifying, even though the rivalry predates his arrival.
Rigsby said he would compare the intesity of the Natchez and Jefferson County rivalry to intensity of the Mississippi State and Ole Miss rivalry.
“It might be in a different class of ball,” Rigsby said, “but the nature of the rivalry always stays the same.”
When Rigsby first came to Natchez, he said he noticed his players played a different brand of football within the rivalry matchups.
This Friday night, the Bulldogs will host Jefferson County.
“That 61 rivalry is still alive and well. We’re well aware of that,” Rigsby said. “We know it’s not a regular game, even though it might look like that on schedule.”
In comparison, Jefferson County is located 24.5 miles up the road in Fayette.
Senior Brad Dean Jr. said the rivalry is more personal for him than for any of his other teammates.
“I have my dad’s side of the family is from Jefferson County,” Dean said. “I love this game, and I take it personally. It’s more personal for me. I know I have been ready since the season started.”
The Bulldogs come into this home-season opener on a winning streak, after defeating Wilkinson County, 34-18 in last week’s season opener on the road. Last season at home, the Bulldogs were 3-3.
Rigsby said with the home fans it helps the morale of the team.
“Our coaching staff appreciates the Natchez fans for the charisma they give us when they’re cheering in the stands,” Rigsby said. “We feed off of their enthusiasm.”
The Tigers come into this game coming off of a loss to Magee High School, 32-0. One of the aspects of the Tigers that Rigsby said he respects is the physicality.
“We highly respect Coach (James) Harrison and Jefferson County, and we don’t underestimate them,” Rigsby said. “The physical-type team he has built, we understand that. We think he’s doing a great job down there.”