Some rivalries are friendly, this one not so much.
There is no love lost between Monroe County rivals Amory and Aberdeen. And for the 77th time, the Panthers and Bulldogs duke it out tonight for bragging rights and the cherished A-Trophy.
Coaches are required to call it the next game on a one-week-at-a-time schedule, but this one has a different feel.
“Our community really wants to win it bad, obviously,” first-year Amory coach Ben Ashley said. “It’s been since 2008. I think it would be a shot in the arm and obviously give them a lot of reason to poke their chest out.”
Former players never forget it. Wednesday, former Aberdeen receiver Ricky Bell and former Amory receiver Jaylon Fair got into an exchange via Twitter.
It was friendly, but they were serious.
Ashley knows all about it. The former Amory assistant was a part of two blowout wins in 2005-06. But the Panthers (2-0) have been on four straight losing ends.
After last year’s win, Aberdeen finished 9-2, with losses to 4A champ Noxubee County and Charleston in the third round of the 3A playoffs.
“That probably had a lot to do with what happened the rest of the season,” Aberdeen coach Mark Bray said. “It means a lot to the kids and the community and has a lot to do with what happens from here on, momentum-wise.”
Aberdeen (1-1) has had a nice offensive balance. Quarterback Josh Williams and back G.G. Blanchard each rushed for a pair of scores in last week’s win at New Hope.
Amory comes in hobbling. It will be the second game without quarterback Jon David Poss (ACL) and who knows who will be in the backfield.
Austin Renfro is also likely out for the season with an ACL tear. Renfro was already the backup – who scored three touchdowns in the season opener – for starter Octavian Parks. Parks went down in the preseason scrimmage.
He may or may not be back tonight.
“Obviously we’re a little frustrated, but that’s part of the game,” Ashley said. “Injuries occur. We’ve just had a real good group of people step up.”
Fred Garth, who Ashley says is probably the best football player in the division, has assumed the quarterbacking role. He’s rushed for 197 yards and three TDs.