Nice to be back in Troy for a weekend

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 18, 2001

Sports Editor


I never thought the City of Troy would look so good.

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After two straight weeks of being on the road with the Trojans in both Miami and Starkville, I’m looking forward to spending this weekend at a Friday night high school football game and a Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

TSU plays host to Cal-State Northridge at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Head coach Larry Blakeney said he wants to "fill the stadium up" for this game and joked that the Matadors, a 1-AA Independent with a 1-4 record, would "probably bring a couple of parents and the assistant coaches’ wives" with them as far as fan support goes.

TSU’s 21-9 win over Mississippi State, while surprising to the rest of the nation, wasn’t near as shocking to those that’s followed Southeastern Conference football this season. The Bulldogs have been on a downward spiral all season long and Troy State caught them at just the right time and in just the right conditions for an upset.

Some thoughts on last week’s game:

Pelton and Rocker rock on: TSU defensive tackles coach Mike Pelton, a native of Goshen, joked after the Trojans’ win on Saturday that he had a "streak" of sorts in Starkville. Pelton, who played for Auburn in 1991-94, has been a part of three straight wins over MSU. Prior to Saturday’s game, the last had come in ’94 when the Tigers beat the Bulldogs 42-18 at Scott Field. Defensive ends coach Tracy Rocker, also a former Auburn star, has never lost a game against Mississippi State, winning four straight as a Tigers’ defensive lineman in 1985-88.

Despite that 54-17 thrashing you gave us, here’s something right back at ya Middle Tennessee: It took three years in Division 1-A before the Blue Raiders were able to beat an SEC opponent. MTS beat hapless Vanderbilt earlier in the season. It took Troy State just one and it came against a better opponent in the Bulldogs.

Starkville aptly named: They should have named it "Stark-ville", as in stark and desolate. First the country side resembles something out of a William Faulkner novel and Highway 82 from "Tusk-a-loosa" is an accident waiting to happen. What is it? Haven’t they ever heard of asphalt and paint up there?

Cheap Shots: That’s the name of the bar we visited on Friday night in Tuscaloosa, just a hop and a skip from Bryant-Denny Stadium on the campus of Alabama. I wanted to go back on Saturday night and ask those Tide fans when was the last time they’d won in Starkville. Opps. They’ve lost three straight since ’96. With Franchione and the gang blowing that big one against Ole Miss earlier in the day, I probably wouldn’t have got out of there alive.

Now to the picks:

CHHS at Carroll-Ozark: The Trojans dropped a tough one last week to Greenville, but need just one more win in region play to make a second straight appearance in the Class 5A playoffs. But with a game against region leader Wilcox-Central lurking on the horizon, CHHS might be regulated to a road trip in the first round. The Eagles will play with emotion early on, considering its their homecoming, but the Trojans have too much talent.

CHHS 21, Carroll-Ozark 7

Alabama Christian at Pike County: Talk about a whupping’ waiting to happen. Pike County lost 17-15 to the Eagles last season in Montgomery, their only region loss of the year. Head coach Wayne Grant got tossed out of the game in the third quarter after contesting a series of bad calls by the officiating crew. From what I heard the same thing happened in Courtland last year in another Pike County loss. Look what the Bulldogs did to Courtland this season in Brundidge.

Alabama Christian 7, Pike County 35

St. Jude at Goshen: Troy State 21, Mississippi State 9; Arkansas 10, South Carolina 7; Auburn 23, Florida 20 and Goshen 28, Straughn 21. The stars must have been aligned just right last weekend. I don’t think many people gave the Eagles a chance of beating the Tigers last Friday night (here’s one), but they did it dramatic fashion, winning in double overtime and throwing a wrench in the Class 2A Region 2 race. The league title will probably still come down between Red Level and Straughn at the end of the year, but the Eagles will soar into the playoffs on Friday night.

St. Jude 14, Goshen 28

Hooper at Pike Liberal Arts: PLAS returns home to face Hooper for another regional contest. All but eliminated from playoff consideration, the Patriots should still win this game as well as next week’s rivalry contest against Dixie Academy.

Hooper 12, PLAS 18