Battle's over?

Published 5:44 pm Wednesday, November 21, 2007

By By Adam Robinson – sports editor
The Battle of Murder Creek isn't on anyone's 2008 football schedule yet - and neither side seems willing to change its mind about when it should be played.
W.S. Neal prefers to play T.R. Miller in week one of the season, while Miller hopes to continue tradition and play the game at the end of the season in week 10.
While Riggs has his reasons for playing in week 10, W.S. Neal coach Blaine Hathcock has his reasons for not - including the possibility of injuries before the end of a tough season in a new region.
Reclassification of the state's high school football teams means Miller is now in 3A, while Neal remains in 4A. Non-region games, according to Alabama High School Athletic Association scheduling rules, can be played in weeks one, five or 10.
As of Tuesday, no game was on the schedule, but Riggs said he would give Neal until Monday to change its mind, and Hathcock said he would wait to see if school administrators changed their minds on Monday. Schools are out all week this week for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Scheduling conflicts
Riggs said T.R. Miller already has week one against Escambia County lined up and Clarke County for week five, and Hathcock said W.S. Neal has lined up Calhoun for week 10 as their homecoming game and has asked to play the game in week one.
Riggs said he was approached back in October by Neal officials about playing the game in week one and he told them that he would not be interested in playing, but only in week 10.
If the game is not played in week 10 for T.R. Miller, Riggs said he has another week 10 game lined up if they choose not to play.
Hathcock said he already has teams lined up, also.
Hathcock said keeping homecoming in week 10 is important.
Since the 1960s the game has always been played as the tenth game, with the exception of the 1974 or 1975 season when the playoff system was changed and the AHSAA forced teams to move their tenth games to another week in the season.
Riggs set a Monday deadline for working out the Battle of Murder Creek schedule.
To Hathcock, the decision has been made, unless school administrators change their minds on Monday.
Week one or week 10?
Riggs said he hates it for the tradition and for the community because the game has been so good and does not think that it would benefit either side if played in week one.
Hathcock said he would even be willing to play on a Thursday in the first week.
But moving the game to week one could hurt the anticipation of the game, Riggs said.
Hathcock said just the opposite.
Continuing tradition
Neither coach said he wants to see the tradition of the game die.
Region play for W.S. Neal next season will be a very tough schedule, with four teams that will be in the region still in the playoffs this year.
To Riggs, the tradition of playing the game at the end of the season is important.