Rebul scraps proposed eight-man schedule

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 22, 2002

[08/22/02]Rebul Academy’s attempt to revive the football season with an 8-man team was officially laid to rest Wednesday due to a lack of player interest.

The ten varsity Raider players had a meeting to discuss the eight-man season, and came away with the decision not to play it.

“Some guys started complaining about only having an eight-man football team,” senior Zach Rowland said. “They didn’t think eight-man football was real football. I think it would have been a good challenge for us because it takes more heart and guts to play eight-man football than any other kind of football.

“If we were to overcome that challenge, it would have been a great senior year. But it looks like that’s all over.”

This decision puts an end to first-year coach Ben Ashley’s scramble for games, a process that was building momentum. In only a week’s time, he had already scheduled several games against teams in Mississippi and Alabama.

“We’re going to have to cancel the season,” Ashley said. “Some of the guys decided it wasn’t worth it. I had found a couple schools to play, including the Mississippi School of the Deaf, but I just don’t think the players’ hearts were in it. Out of eight or nine, I had five or six that wanted to play.

“Sometimes you have to start from scratch.”

Though Ashley wanted to avoid putting the football program down for a year, he is optimistic about the players he has for next season.

“It hits me pretty hard, but I’m not giving up, and we’re going with the junior varsity, the future of our program,” Ashley said. “We will possibly have 16 or 17 in the spring and we’re only losing two seniors.”

The Raiders’ decision to forgo the season leaves a pair of seniors in doubt about their football future, though the option to play at another school is a possibility.

“I’m thinking about going somewhere else, perhaps Baker’s team in Greenville,” said Joel Rials, a senior, referring to former Rebul coach John Baker. “But this is probably the last time I will ever play football again, and I wanted to do it at the school I’ve been going to since I was 5 years old.”

Meanwhile, the ramifications of both Rebul’s and Christ Missionary & Industrial College High School’s, another MPSA football team canceling its season, resolution to cancel their schedules is starting to have its adverse effects on the competition.

Briarfield, Tri-County and Porters Chapel are trying desperately to find replacement games. MPSA Director of Activities Les Triplett said the schools have the option of taking a forfeit win or finding another opponent, and many coaches are choosing the latter.

Briarfield will open against Academy-AAA Hillcrest Christian, while PCA coach Bubba Mims went through several possible opponents before Academy-AA Benton agreed to fill the Oct. 11 open date.

Mims first called Grawood, a school near Shreveport, La., but its coaches didn’t want to drive three hours to play in Vicksburg. The next call went to the 2001 Academy-A runners-up, Wayne Academy, but its coaches preferred to keep their open date.

Finally, Mims called Benton officials on Wednesday afternoon and set up the game.

“It’s good and bad,” Mims said of the choice between playing and not playing. “In the middle of your district schedule, a week off wouldn’t be bad. But considering we only play 10 games, we don’t want an open date. I wouldn’t know what to do on a Friday night.”

The addition helps PCA keep its homecoming intact and adds a third Academy-AA team to its schedule. The Eagles were supposed to host Rebul for homecoming.

“That goes to show you we ain’t scared. We may be stupid, but we’re not scared,” Mims said with a laugh.

Briarfield coach Jay Murphree was less concerned with the assured victory than he was with having to sit out a week of competition.

“We need a game,” Murphree said. “The jamboree was the first time our team has had the opportunity to play against anyone other than ourselves, and we don’t want to take two weeks off until our next game.”

Tri-County coach Bo Milton, who was scheduled to play both Rebul and CM&I as conference opponents, will not try to reschedule.

“The positive is that we have two open weeks that we can use to heal and rest,” Milton said. “The negative side is that we don’t get ten games and you want to play well toward the end of the season.”