By: Miranda Rester
The Mississippi High School Athletic Association recently made the decision to change the football districts. Since this change happens every two years, the new classifications aren’t a surprise to any of the football coaches. The districts are frequently changed because of the increasing enrollments in Mississippi high schools. The teams in Oak Grove’s football district are now Forest Hill, Petal, Hattiesburg, Terry, Brandon, Meridian, and Natchez. This is a change from this year’s district which consisted of Bassfield, Laurel, Natchez, Terry, Hattiesburg, and Jim Hill. The coaches have said that they like the teams that will now be in our district.
“It’s always good to have a few new teams,” Coach Nevil Barr said. This change will certainly make the next football season more challenging, but all of the players, coaches, and even some of the fans are excited to see what the new teams will bring to the table. “It definitely makes it more competitive,” Athletic Director and Coach Tim Heldt said.
The new district will most likely not bring about a new rival for Oak Grove. However, the ancient rivalries among Oak Grove, Petal, and Hattiesburg will remain. “Rivals are blood deep, no matter what,” said John Baxter, sophomore football player. As most southern Mississippi football fans know, this rivalry has been around for years, and it’s part of what gets the students so excited and enthusiastic about football games among these schools. “Really, the rivalry would still be there even if we were not in the same district,” Heldt said.
“I’m ready to see what new teams we get to beat,” Trest Underwood, junior football player, said. Coaches Nevil Barr, Bob Byrd, Terry Underwood, Steve Young, Jesse Lang, Jeff Waits, Zane Thomas, Tim Heldt, Terry Smith, and Lonny Schraeder always push their players to give their all regardless of who they play or what they’re playing for. “We prepare year round to be the best we can be, and that won’t change,” Barr said. This preparation always shows when the Warriors step onto the field.
“We play our best every time we go out; it doesn’t matter who we are playing,” Trest Underwood said. Most of the players are expecting the coaches to push them even more next season because they haven’t played some of the teams in the new district, but Barr said the new district isn’t what will be motivating them to play hard. “We believe we are the hardest working team in Mississippi.”
Since Oak Grove hasn’t played some of the teams in the new district before, players and coaches are going to prepare more than they already do. This way, they’re ready for whatever the new teams may throw at them. Although the players say they aren’t too worried about the new teams, they’re anxious to see them play.
The team expects that they may face challenges next season other than the new districts, but every season comes with a new adventure. “Every year, there are always new problems and challenges. We look forward to solving them,” Barr said.