David Wheeler on High School sports – the 18-Wheelers edition

In just a couple of days, the 2012 Mississippi high school football season will be upon us.
And what will be my contribution to this premier?
Sometimes a catchy phrase associated with a column like this helps, and as I was rolling some things over in my mind, 18-Wheelers came to me.
For the 2012 season, I thought I would go with my pick of 18 of the best games for the season, mostly from the Northeast Mississippi area, but I will throw in a handful from outside our area just because.
Another year I might ask 18 questions about the season, but for this premier, keeping it simple with games.
This weekend opens with three of my choices:
Aberdeen at Columbus – certainly two athletic schools, and I am interested to see how Aberdeen plays with a new coach and in the aftermath of the state-takeover.
Tupelo at Lafayette – how does the biggest school in the area react to the post-Aushton Shumpert era; and how does Lafayette begin on the road to a third possible state championship (On a side note, saw D.K. Bufford playing centerfield at the NEMCABB tournament in June – WOW!).
West Point at South Panola – this Saturday contest was a hot ticket last season, but I feel South Panola is far better in 2012, and visitors usually do not get welcomed nicely at the University.
August 31 has four more choices:
Lafayette at Oxford – You have to love rivalries.
Starkville at Tupelo – Among my choices are a selected number of traditional rivalries, this one goes way back.
Hoover (Ala.) at South Panola – Hoover certainly picked (and I was so shocked Hoover finally agreed to play last season – finally) a nice year to host South Panola, and win. The shoe is on the other foot now.
Madison Central at Petal – Petal was in the Class 6A title game a year ago, and the Bobby Hall ties to the area make this interesting.
September 6
Vardaman at Falkner – Not to leave out 1A matchups, many feel this will decide the 1-1A race.
September 7
West Point at Starkville – perhaps a great rivalry that not enough of us might appreciate, and not to mention both are pretty solid this season.
September 28
Baldwyn at Calhoun City – I think three teams have an edge in the 1-2A title hunt, this is the first matchup of those three.
South Panola at Olive Branch – Last season’s 6A champion versus the school everyone associates as the best big school in the state; which one gets the edge for the title in 2012?
October 5
Corinth at Amory – 1-4A always entertaining, the show begins this season here.
Shannon at Itawamba AHS – same as above, plus a nice division test for Shumpert and the IAHS offense.
October 12
Amory at Shannon – once, perhaps the best rivalry in the area.
Baldwyn at Bruce – the second important 1-2A matchup.
Lafayette at New Albany – an important contest on many levels, beginning with 2-4A.
October 19
Petal at Meridian – this might determine a lot as to how South Mississippi is won in 6A.
October 26
Bruce at Calhoun City – the third and final act in 1-2A; and by the way, a great rivalry.
Just to go off on a side tangent, I certainly can not claim originating the phrase for this column, especially under my own roof.
My oldest son, came home as a sophomore last year, talking about the number he choose for his uniform. A couple of days after he choose it, someone on the team suggested he should have picked No. 18 – some announcer types certainly could have had fun with that, perhaps?
So I just borrowed it for this. Thanks Ty.

David Wheeler has been contributing to the high school sports coverage of the Daily Journal since 1985.

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