n Eagles adding sports, rivalries for future seasaons.
By Gene Phelps
Aubrey Boren had an important phone call to return earlier this week.
Tupelo Christian Preparatory School’s athletics director and head football coach called the Greenville O’Bannon football coach to discuss the possibility of playing a home-and-home game against the Delta school, beginning this season.
“We’d like to play here this year and would have no problem coming to your place the next year,” Boren explained to the coach.
After a few minutes, their conversation ended.
“We should know something later today,” Boren said, then smiled.
Boren has been in communication with a lot of schools since TCPS learned last month it could leave the Mississippi Private School Association to join the Mississippi High School Activities Association for the upcoming 2009-10 school year.
Because the MHSAA has expanded from five to six classifications, and schedules have been set, the Eagles’ varsity football and basketball programs will compete as independents the first two years.
However, TCPS’s other programs – baseball, cheerleading, fast-pitch softball, swimming, tennis and track and field – will be eligible to compete for division, north state and state championships immediately in Class 1A.
Cross country is expected to be added this fall, while the addition of slow-pitch softball and boys and girls soccer is in the discussion stages, Boren noted.
“Anytime you change and change to the unknown, it raises questions,” he said. “We’re grateful for the way the MPSA treated us and appreciated all that they’ve done.
“Everything’s been very positive in the move to the MHSAA. The public system has received us very well.”
The MHSAA’s executive director, Dr. Ennis Procter, expects other private schools to join the MHSAA in the future.
“We have some things they don’t offer,” he said. “We have speech, debate, music and some of the best band programs in the country.”
While Boren continues to work on filling a 10-game football schedule, one that kicks off with a road game at Mantachie, he had very few problems with his basketball schedule.
“We’ve been in invited to play in a lot of tournaments. We even got a call from the Hotbed Classic. I told them we’re not ready for that,” he said, then laughed, referring to New Albany’s annual boys tournament that features many of the top area teams as well as top-flight out-of-state programs.
TCPS will be one of the smallest schools competing in the MHSAA with its enrollment of between 85 and 90 students in grades 9-12.
Still, the athletes are looking forward to the challenge of competing against the public schools and building area rivalries. As a matter of fact, they experienced play against public schools in football and basketball this past season. The Eagles played Houlka and Wheeler in football, while the basketball teams battled Mantachie and Smithville.
“This is an opportunity to play new people, new teams and start new rivalries,” said football and basketball player Braxton Melancon.
“To be the best you have to play the best,” said Bettina White, who plays basketball and runs track and cross country. “This was a step to make our school and athletic programs better.”