FILE Photo

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 28, 2000

Troy State linebacker Jimmy McClain takes down a Jacksonville State player last year during the Trojans 35-16 win at home.

2001 could be last game of series


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Sports Editor

TSU head coach Larry Blakeney doesn’t know what will happen after next season’s contest against arch-rival Jacksonville State.

The Trojans are making the move to Division 1-A next year and the tentative TSU 2001 schedule has the Gamecocks coming to Troy the last game of the season on Nov. 17.

But after that?

"My understanding is that once you make that move to Division 1-A, you don’t go and play a Division 1-AA team on a home-and-away basis," said Blakeney.

This Saturday the No. 3 Trojans and the Gamecocks get together for the 62nd renewal of the "Battle for the Ol’ School Bell" at Paul Snow Stadium in Jacksonville, Ala.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

"I know that’s the same day as Auburn vs. Alabama," said Blakeney. "But I don’t care about that. Anyone who loves Troy State University will be there."

The Tigers and the Crimson Tide start at 2:30 CST and will be aired by CBS. As heated as that contest is sure to be, Blakeney said Tuscaloosa and "the loveliest village on the plains" doesn’t have a complete lock on the biggest rivalry in the state.

"You can take the most arrogant Alabama fan and the most arrogant Auburn fan and they’ll both hate the other school," said Blakeney, when asked to offer a comparison between the two games. "That’s the way ALL Jacksonville State fans and ALL Troy State fans feel about the each other."

With TSU winning the last five games against the Gamecocks, Blakeney was asked if he felt his team would be a little less focused this week in practice, coming off of Saturday’s big victory over McNeese State.

"They shouldn’t be," he said. "I wanted our guys to enjoy the win over McNeese this weekend, but I fully expect them to come into practice ready to work on getting ready for Jacksonville State."

And Blakeney readily points out that although the Trojans have won the last five, JSU still leads the series, 33-26-2.

After a 2-9 season last year, the Gamecocks have shown improvement this season under first-year head coach Jack Crowe. Jacksonville State enters Saturday’s game with 4-5 record. The Gamecocks defeated Louisiana-Lafayette last week, 28-14 and prior to that upset Northwestern State 28-24.

"They are a much improved football team from last year," said Blakeney. "They’ve got a number of seniors on that team that are going to be highly motivated against us. Some of the players on that team we know about because we tried to recruit them."

Blakeney said the Gamecocks offense is a mixture of the option and the passing game.

"They run enough option to keep a defense honest," said Blakeney. "And (Reggie) Stancil is big, strong and he runs hard."

Stancil was named Southland Football League Freshmen of the Year last season as the Gamecocks’ quarterback. The 6-foot-1, 215 pound sophomore passed for 1,915 yards and rushed for 387 yards and totaled 15 touchdowns (10 passing and five rushing).

The Troy State offense goes into Saturday’s game ranked 84th in Division 1-AA, averaging 332 yards per game, but Blakeney said that doesn’t concern him as long as the Trojans keep winning.

"I’m not a stat man," he said. "The object of the game is to win, so we must be doing something right. We could put Demontray Carter, LeBarron Black, Thad Buttone all on the bench and put five wide receivers on the field, but we’d probably be losing right now."