OPINION: Football can be more physical when playing against neighbors

Warning: There will be contact, but forced injury? Please!
High school football rivalries are a lot of things, non-contact drill isn’t one of them.
Amory and Aberdeen met in the annual A-Game on Friday and we just missed a small brawl after a late hit in the early going.
Across a county road or two, Hatley and Hamilton were marred in a very physical Monroe County matchup as well.
Before I go any further, let me say this about the injury to senior lineman Joseph Neal. If you didn’t hear, Neal was airlifted to the hospital after sustaining a hard lick that landed him under late night tests. Turns out he has a slight tear in a vertebrae that I’ve heard actually was from a previous injury. We’re all glad that Neal is alright. All of us. Everyone. No one wished for anyone to get hurt in that football game.
I harp because I hear. I’ve heard a few complaints that Hamilton coaches were telling their guys to go after some of the Hatley guys. To that I say, you’re being ridiculous.
As someone who talks to all of these coaches on a consistent basis, I can tell you that none of them, Byrd, Duncan, Clark, Wilson, Tacker or Weeks, will ever tell their players to intentionally hurt another player.
I will guarantee that each of them will tell their guys to play hard-nosed, hard-hitting football, but isn’t that what football is, hard-nosed and hard-hitting?
If you said no, I’m not sure we’re talking about the same game.
Look, no one wants to see players get hurt, whether it be on the high school, college or pro levels. Unfortunately injuries are a part of the game. Nobody went after Joseph Neal or Codi Taylor, who banged up his collarbone. And everyone, including everyone, is glad they’re ok. Accusing a coach of intentionally having an opponent injured is about as big an insult as you could hand a coach and about as disrespectful as it gets. Be glad Joseph Neal is fine and respect the game’s coaches, even the ones you don’t cheer for. Their jobs are tough enough as it is.

Speck Says:
Went 4-0 last week, about that time to do it again.

Shannon at Amory
I’m picking the Red Raiders because there aren’t many teams who can beat them. Let me add this though. Amory will come around. Pat Byrd has a young team and I know he won’t use it as an excuse, but have you seen that schedule? The defense is solid and I truly think this Shannon game will come to the final quarter for a decision.
Speck says…Shannon
(Do me a favor, go to Monroe360.com and read my blog about Amory, only if you have thick skin though.)

Aberdeen at Okolona
Or is it at Aberdeen? I don’t have a schedule in front of me and it doesn’t matter.
Speck says…Aberdeen

Nettleton at Baldwyn
Gotta feel a little bad for new Baldwyn coach Mike Gray, whose team is still winless following last season’s state title. Unless you’re Nettleton. The Tigers can score. The Bearcats can’t.
Speck says…Nettleton

Hatley at Smithville
One of those could-go-either-way rivalries, but Hatley is pretty banged up and Smithville won’t feel sorry. True rivals don’t.
Speck says…Smithvegas

Houlka at Hamilton
Houlka just started playing football. It’ll be over before this game really gets started.
Speck says…Hamilton

Brandon Speck is the sports editor of the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at (662) 256-5647 or brandon.speck@monroe360.com.

Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal