Mississippi’s last standing bowl game driven by dedicated volunteers|OPINION

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bobby Robinson recalled leaving a Red Carpet Bowl Classic with sacks full of money, heading to the bank, putting the money in bank bags and depositing them in the wee hours of a Saturday morning.

“We kept wondering who was going to come up behind us with a gun,” the Vicksburg attorney said.

Dr. Robert Ford remembers the Red Carpet Bowl committee going to extreme measures to dry a soaked playing field.

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“Travis Wayne Vance found someone with a helicopter to hover over the field,” Ford said. “I don’t know where that helicopter came from, but it worked.”

Amazing is the lengths these men will go to in making sure the Red Carpet Bowl goes off without a hitch. Robinson and Ford will be honored Friday at a pregame ceremony scheduled to begin at 5:45 p.m. at Vicksburg Memorial Stadium.

Since 1962, the RCB has been a jewel of Warren County football. At one time, the game matched the best two teams in the state for a college-like postseason bowl game. When the Mississippi High School Activities Association moved to the current playoff format, the RCB changed to a preseason classic.

And a classic it is.

Friday night should be no different. Five-time defending Class 5A state champion South Panola will look to run its nation-best winning streak to 76 games when it faces a talented Vicksburg team. Before that game, Warren Central will do battle with perennial Class 4A power Clarksdale.

Last season, the classic was played on two nights with WC giving Panola all it could handle in the Thursday game and Vicksburg playing Clarksdale tough in the second.

Committee members shifted the game back to one night this year and enthusiasm is growing. An overflow crowd is expected at Memorial Stadium in what has become the last true high school bowl game in Mississippi.

The RCB needed special permission to play the first game at 6 p.m. after the MHSAA mandated 7:30 p.m. start times throughout September, but for the RCB committee, it was nothing they couldn’t handle.

No matter what snags may arise, the Red Carpet Bowl is put on professionally with nothing but volunteers. Its board meets throughout the year trying to get teams, line up sponsors and sell program ads. They make this special night come off without a hitch every season.

RCB members will be wearing white shirts with “Red Carpet Bowl” in red lettering on the right crest. If you see one or two, give them a pat on the back and a nice thank you.

Vicksburg is unique to have a high school bowl game. To keep it moving forward, more volunteers will be called on, whether to rent a helicopter or brave the middle of the night with a bag full of cash.

No matter the call, these volunteers answer it.

Thank them for it.

Sean P. Murphy is sports editor. He can be reached at smurphy@vicksburgpost.com.