McCollough: Now is the perfect time to make the Pike County Classic mean something again

Published 10:25 pm Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Former Alabama Senator William Lowndes Yancey welcomed then Confederate States of America president Jefferson Davis to the world by uttering one of the most famous phrases in the history of politics.

“The man and the hour have met.”

In a different way, the same can now be said for Charles Henderson and Pike County football.

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For the last 15 years, the annual cross-county grudge match between the Bulldogs and Trojans has been for bragging rights only.

The game has been a pre-season scrimmage since the 2000 season, but now that can change.

Charles Henderson climbed back to 5A in the latest AHSAA reclassification, and in doing so joined a new region.

The Trojans’ new region features only seven teams, different from the eight-team regions fans have grown accustomed to over the past few seasons.

Charles Henderson will be looking for a non-region opponent to fill the void, and the Bulldogs from nine miles down 231 make perfect sense.

The Pike County Classic was a regular-season game from basically 1962-1999. The Trojans won 26 of those contests, including every single game played from 1962-83.

However, the tides turned in the Bulldogs favor towards the end of the official games.

Pike County won nine of the last 13 games against their rivals to the north, before the game was moved to its current pre-season slot.

In non-region games, coaches and athletic directors want to accomplish two things: play a quality opponent and make some cash.

Pike County and Charles Henderson fit both slots for one another.

The Trojans marched to the AHSAA 4A Title game in 2013, and had one of the best two-year runs in school history under former head coach Mike Dean.

Pike County finally has stability at the head coach position in long-time Bulldog coach Fred Holland. Holland’s teams have improved every season, and advanced to the second round of the AHSAA playoffs this season.

The two programs are on the rise and are seemingly on a collision course of success.

The second issue would be even easier to fix. There is a natural rivalry between the two football programs, and I personally have fielded questions from coaches at each school wanting to know how the other program is doing.

The Pike County Classic would be, without a shadow of doubt, the highest attended game on each other’s schedule, meaning a nice payday for one of the school’s every year.

While not a fan of the game as a scrimmage, Dean liked the idea of moving the game to the regular season.

The next head coach at Charles Henderson will be faced with the task of deciding what to do with the game.

Holland likes the game, and he always has.

He is an old-school football coach that doesn’t get caught up in things outside the lines of the field.

But I feel that even a coaching veteran such as Holland would have to smile a little knowing the game that means so much to so many once again counts on the official records.

As a fan of high school football, the game needs to happen every year, regardless of official or not.

But just imagine a Friday night in late October at the Vet or the Dawg Pound.

Undefeated Pike County versus undefeated Charles Henderson.

Intensity, pageantry, rivalry.

Everything that makes Alabama high school football so much fun.

Ryan McCollough is a sports writer for The Messenger. He covers high school, recreation and Troy University athletics and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.