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December 18, 2012

Tornadoes, Rockets to resume rivalry

MERIDIAN —     After a two-year hiatus, Philadelphia and Neshoba Central will resume their rivalry in 2013.

    The series, which began in 1960, was put on hold following the 2010 season when there was an incident leading up to the game as well as an on-field situation at halftime. However, the neighboring schools will meet again next fall. Philadelphia leads the rivalry 27-24 after winning the past two games in lopsided fashion, 40-14 in 2009 and 42-14 in 2010. The Rockets ended a three-game winning streak in blowout fashion in 2008, topping the Tornadoes 40-7.

    It is one big game that dots Philadelphia’s non-division schedule for the next two seasons as the Tornadoes also have a blockbuster slated with Louisville. The seven-time state champion Wildcats are dropping back into Class 3A after spending the past two seasons in Class 4A and are expected to be among the state’s elite.

    “Our community went crazy over Louisville,” Philadelphia coach Teddy Dyess said. “That very possibly could be 1 and 2 in the state in 3A when the season opens.

    “It should be a great game.”

    In addition to that trip to Louisville in Week 4 and the game with Neshoba in Week 3, Philadelphia also has scheduled South Delta, Lexington-McClain, Bay Springs and local rival Kemper County to prepare for the new-look Division 5-3A which now includes Raleigh and Forest. The Tornadoes have dominated the division, winning all 20 games in the division since moving up from Class 2A in 2009.

    Kemper, which is moving to Division 4-3A, will play a pair of former division foes in Heidelberg — season opener — and Newton while also playing Scott Central, Weir and Velma Jackson. Wildcats coach Danya Turner spent three seasons at the helm of the Lions prior to taking the job in DeKalb last year. Kemper went 1-10 a year ago, including 0-5 in the division.

    Newton, which spent two seasons in Division 5-3A but is now returning to Class 2A as part of Division 5-2A, will play four current members of 5-3A in addition to Kemper and Richton. The Tigers open the season against Southeast Lauderdale before facing Raleigh and Heidelberg and Choctaw Central.

    The Warriors, who went 4-6 last season and a game shy of making the playoffs following a postseason berth in 2011, will feature a non-division slate much like they have the past two seasons. Choctaw will again open with Leake Central and Union and will also play the annual Battle of Nations against Cherokee (N.C.) and square off with Enterprise. The Warriors have also added games against West Lauderdale and Newton.

    Gone from the Warriors’ schedule, though, is Newton County. The Cougars will open their schedule against Neshoba Central before facing Southeast Lauderdale, Kosciusko, Forest and West Lauderdale. Newton County opened 4-0 under first-year head coach Jackie Williamson last season before dropping five its final six games to miss the postseason.

    Meanwhile, Union will be looking for its third straight Division 5-2A title and to prepare for that the Yellowjackets, who are still trying to finalize their sixth and final non-division game, will prepare for that cause against traditional foes Nanih Waiya, Choctaw Central, Leake Central and Madison-St. Joseph as well as Ackerman.

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