August 30, 2013 11:31:26 AM
Scott Walters - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- Football fans in Starkville and Oxford will have two Egg Bowl games to pay attention to this season -- a big one and little one.
At 7 tonight, the Starkville and Oxford high school football programs hope to start an annual tradition they have dubbed the "Little Egg Bowl" when the teams meet in Starkville. Before the game, which will be Starkville's home opener, a trophy will be presented. After the game, one school will get to take that trophy home for the season.
"We stressed with our kids today that anytime we get to play for a trophy it means something," Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell said. "I think they are fired up about being the start of something special."
When the Mississippi High School Activities Association announced Starkville High would move from Class 5A to Class 6A in 2013 and be in the same region as Madison Central, a common non-conference opponent for the Jackets, Mitchell had an idea to put some spice into his schedule. His notion was simple: Take the passion of the Mississippi State University-University of Mississippi rivalry and translate it to Friday night.
"I think it's a game we'd like to play every year because it's a game that has emotion to it," Mitchell said. "We immediately this offseason called (Oxford coach) Johnny (Hill) and there was excitement on both ends for this matchup."
The Starkville High players, who have grown up watching the Egg Bowl game during Thanksgiving break, are enjoying having a new rivalry game that could stretch beyond the Golden Triangle area.
"People around school and around town are already telling us how important it is to beat a school in Oxford in anything," Starkville senior linebacker and co-captain Taylor Johnston said. "We are fired up about playing our version of Ole Miss, and the practices this week have been at a higher level."
Starkville defeated Oxford 28-7 in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A state playoffs last season. The Yellow Jackets contained All-State quarterback Parker Adamson in the victory, but Mitchell liked what he saw from Adamson so much he called him to offer him a spot on the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game roster after the season.
"I love the way they continually throw it all over the place and do it with success no matter who is back there slinging it," Mitchell said. "(Adamson) was so good, but they have a sophomore (Jack Abraham) that does it well this year, too."
Oxford (1-0) defeated Jackson Prep 32-20 in its home opener last week. It will try to start 2-0 for the third time in the past four years. Starkville defeated Class 4A champion Noxubee County 17-0 last week.
Oxford will try to load up its air attack on a secondary that features two players -- Darius Grayer and LaDorrious Pittman -- playing on both sides of the ball. The Chargers like to line up in four- or five-wide receiver sets and dare you to stop their quick-strike attack.
"We're going to stop the run because that's what we do, and I'm not giving up the game plan by saying that," Johnston said. "We have to force turnovers and bad throws when we make them one dimensional later in the game."
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter