By Gene Phelps
CLINTON – The state’s high school football championship games are moving out of Jackson to campus sites in the northern part of the state starting this season, the Mississippi High School Activities Association announced Monday.
The games in six classifications – 1A through 6A – will be played Dec. 5-6 at Mississippi State’s Davis Wade Stadium. The Bulldogs will also host in 2016.
Ole Miss will host the 2015 and 2017 championship games at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson had been the host site since 1992. That season, Tupelo, led by quarterback Kirk Presley, defeated Hattiesburg to win the Class 5A state championship.
“We want to take our student athletes to the very best venues in the state,” MHSAA executive director Hinton said. “I think championships should be a top five experience of a lifetime.”
Alabama alternates its championship games between Auburn and Alabama, while Louisiana plays its title games in the Louisana Superdome.
Mississippi State athletics director Scott Stricklin praised Hinton for his vision and tweeted: “Great opportunity for MSU and OM to host participating teams and fans. Plus, it gives those young men a chance to participate in an SEC venue.”
Tupelo head coach Trent Hammond, whose Golden Wave played Oak Grove in the 2013 Class 6A state championship game in Jackson, is excited about the change in venues.
“I think this is great,” he said. “A central location is a good thing, but the stadiums (at MSU and Ole Miss) are state-of-the-art stadiums.
“When you play a game of that caliber in that kind of stadium, it has a huge impact on your players.”
Hammond said the move to MSU and Ole Miss also helps with travel for North Mississippi schools.
“I’m excited about not having to make a 31⁄2-hour drive for a state championship game,” said.
The MHSAA and the Mississippi Association of Coaches announced the 2015 and 2017 Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Football Game would be played at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. The game has been played in Alabama – Mobile and Montgomery – since its inception in 1988.
“It’s good to finally get that game in Mississippi,” said Tupelo’s Hammond, who will be Mississippi’s defensive coordinator for this year’s game in Montgomery, Alabama.