Game changer

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It has been said that change is inevitable. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

It was made official this week, that the Mississippi High School Association will be moving the six prep football state championship games out of Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Jackson. The title tilts had been played in the venue for the last 22 years, and Picayune fans witnessed the Maroon Tide win a pair of Class 5A crowns in that stadium over the past three seasons.

At a press conference on Monday it was revealed that, for the next four years, the championship contests would rotate between Ole Miss and Mississippi State, depending on which team was not hosting the Egg Bowl that year.

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This year’s game will take place in Starkville, with the 2015 game set for Oxford.

“We studied different venues and opportunities to go to different places around the state during these last few years,” Mississippi High School Activities Association Director Don Hinton said. For us, it’s all about our students, whether it’s athletics or an activity like dance or band. We want the best facilities and venues possible.”

While many will welcome the change of venue, and I’m not in any way shape or form against it, I for one will miss the big horseshoe in the Capital City.

There was something magical about making it to that stage for a prep football team. I was lucky enough to go six-for-six as a sports writer covering local teams that made it to the big stadium for the state championship game when I covered them.

I saw Moss Point win three state crowns while working for the Mississippi Press and the Sun Herald, watched D’Iberville win its only title for the Sun Herald, and, of course, over the past three seasons saw Picayune win its two crowns while covering the Maroon Tide for the Item.

Stepping on to the playing surface under the bright lights at that place was always special, for coaches, players…and even sportswriters.

It’s a feeling that will be hard to replace, no matter the locale.