Anything is possible when high school football players hit the field

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 23, 2007

August 23, 2007

It began at 60. It’s now down to 7. Fifty-three days of swelter, youth sports and an occasional bout of rain have passed since the countdown to the Red Carpet Bowl began.

It’s almost here. Can you feel it?

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Everywhere, people stop to ask about the RCB and whether Warren Central or Vicksburg have any shot at beating two of the state’s legendary teams on two consecutive days. The answer, I say frankly, is yes. Anytime two high school teams suit up anything is possible. Maybe not probable, but definitely possible.

For the past two seasons, the Red Carpet Bowl has acted as a warm-up game for the regular season. Indianola-Gentry and Memphis-Kirby were lesser opponents who had little shot at beating either Vicksburg or Warren Central. The final scores – by at least 20 points – were indicative of the poor competition.

Certainly that cannot be said this time around. Warren Central tackles national power South Panola, a team that has won 74 of its last 75 games and was picked by Sports Illustrated as the fifth-best high school football program in America. South Panola’s last two 9th-grade teams went undefeated and the four-time defending Class 5A state champions are ranked No. 1 in the preseason.

Standing in the Tigers’ way of winning their 61st straight game are the Vikings, a team that missed the playoffs for the first time since 1984 last season. For Warren Central to win, the Vikings will have to play their best game and hope Panola doesn’t.

Being the first game of the season, the latter is possible. Panola has a new coach and lost a good bit of talent from last year. The first game will be played in blistering heat, meaning conditioning may play a role. Also, mistakes in the early season are common. Fumbles and miscommunications early in the season far outweigh those at the end of the year.

Simply put, if a team is to play the Tigers, it has a much better chance of beating them early in the year than late, when all the kinks are worked out and the team is a well-oiled machine.

For the Gators, the task is equally as daunting. Clarksdale comes into the game ranked preseason No. 2 and is loaded. Clarksdale played for the Class 4A championship last season and its only regular season loss came to South Panola by a touchdown.

Vicksburg returns a wealth of offensive talent, but also will be starting three new offensive linemen. If the line can open holes for running back Delmon Robinson and give time for quarterback Stanton Price to throw the ball, the Gators have a shot.

Warren Central and Vicksburg will be decided underdogs heading into the two-day extravaganza. Both are coming off of disappointing seasons in which neither made the playoffs.

What a better way to start a new season than by knocking off the two most feared teams in the state this season.

Likely? No way.

Possible? Absolutely.

We’re down to single digits. Can you feel it?