Tupelo comes together around football

By Todd Vinyard/Journal Interactive

TUPELO – If your answer to Hank Williams’ musical question of “Are you ready for some football?” is yes, then Tupelo is your kind of city this weekend.
Friday night’s atmosphere, with fireworks and a regional television audience watching, set the tone as South Panola took on Tupelo in the Cellular South “Y’all vs. Us” broadcast.
South Panola built a big lead and rolled past Tupelo 62-6 Friday night in front of an unofficial estimated crowd of 8,500 fans at the THS stadium that seats 7,500.
Another big winner was the city of Tupelo, with television exposure and extra visitors on a Friday night.
“Anytime South Panola and Tupelo play, people from the surrounding areas come,” said Neal McCoy, executive director of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It is a big game with big-time recruits. This helps with the image of Tupelo as a top sports city.”
Fans were lining up at 4 p.m. to get into the game and Tupelo Principal Lee Stratton was even helping sell tickets for a while as the crowd poured in.
Joel Harden, 8, wore a Tupelo High hat standing next to his dad, Randy, waiting for tickets. “I’ve been praying all day for a Tupelo win,” Harden said. “I’m ready.”
Brenda Ivy and her nephew, Corey Garth, drove up from Okolona for the game.
“I’ve seen South Panola on TV,” Garth said. “I wanted to see them in person.”
Tupelo Football Booster Club President Morris Miley said the tailgate before the game was a huge success. Several tents were set up where students, parents and others enjoyed food, drink and football talk.
“It’s great to see the community come together like this,” Miley said.
Tupelo students came together to support their team, too. A group of sophomore students had venezuela noise makers and signs ready to show support.
“It is been insane this week how excited people have been for this game,” student J.P Stanzell said before the kickoff. “It’s been fun.”
Today, football fun continues with Tupelo Fairpark “Pigskins In The Park.” The Mississippi State at Florida and Ole Miss at Alabama games will be broadcast on a jumbotron at Fairpark. The Park opens at 2 p.m., music starts at 4 p.m. and kickoff for the games starts at 6 p.m. and then at 8 p.m.
The event is free. Vendors will offer food and beverages for purchase.
Chad Thompson, the youth minister at Calvary Baptist Church, said while enjoying THS tailgating at the church’s tent he would be taking in more football at Fairpark today.
“I’ll be there for sure,” Thompson said. “It’s a great time to be in Tupelo and enjoying some great community events.”

Contact Todd Vinyard at (662) 678-1586 or todd.vinyard@djournal.com.