We have arrived at a weekend quite unlike anything we’ve seen in my seven-plus seasons as sports editor at the Daily Journal.
There are five football teams from the Journal’s wide circulation area that are headed to Jackson to contend for MHSAA state championships.
Three of them – Smithville, Calhoun City and Tupelo – will play today, while Lafayette and Oxford play on Saturday.
None of us saw this coming in August, of course. We assume and always hope that at least a couple of teams make it to the championship game, but I recall at least one conversation in the office, in September maybe, when one of us said we might not get a single team to Jackson this year.
But last week, Gene Phelps and I were chatting and he said, “You know, we might wind up with five teams in Jackson.”
It’s quite daunting to plan for how to handle all this the right way. For the first time in several years, we’re planning to publish two editions on Saturday morning so that our readers in Calhoun City and Smithville get coverage that focuses a bit more on their teams.
Our folks in Jackson will be hustling at full speed to get the best possible coverage of Tupelo’s game back to us before our deadline tonight.
And they’ll have to do it all again on Saturday.
Let me be honest: Having five teams in Jackson is good for our business. But even if it wasn’t, it would still be exciting for the communities involved – and we’re all invested in that.
This year in Northeast Mississippi has already seen more than its share of sports highlights, including that unexpected College World Series run by Mississippi State and an SEC tournament championship in men’s basketball for Ole Miss.
Over the next two days, the last big sports story of the year will play out. We’re excited to be a part of it.
John L. Pitts (firstname.lastname@example.org) is sports editor of the Daily Journal.