Fans: Play the game

Published 6:10 pm Monday, November 26, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell – news editor
The calls for tradition rings loud and clear among a group of people who have an interest in one special football game.
Coaches at T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal High Schools appear to have reached an impasse when it comes to the scheduling of the 61-year-old match-up.
T.R. Miller head coach Jamie Riggs wants the game played in week 10 or not at all, while W.S. Neal head coach Blaine Hathcock wants the game played in week one.
Bernie Wall, a player for the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles in 1966, said changing the tradition would be a big mistake.
Ray Langham, who played in the Miller-Neal game in 1949, said the game has been big for many years and believes the game should continue as in the past.
According to a recent poll at, 128 votes have been cast with the majority of votes calling for the game to be played in week 10. Voting in the poll showed 69.5 percent of those voting want the game played in week 10, while 7 percent want the game played in week one. Some 17.2 percent of voters say the game could be played any week in the season while 6.3 percent say the game shouldn't be played at all.
Marty Cook, who has a son on the Tigers team, said the game means more than just the final score.
The game has traditionally been the final game of the season for both teams. In recent years, the schedule was changed due to regulations set by the Alabama High School Athletic Association. Teams only have options of playing non-region games in weeks one, five and 10, according to the Association.
Ava Watson Crutchfield, who served as a cheerleader for the Eagles until her graduation in 1974, said the game should be left at the end of the season.
Playing the game at the beginning of the season would ruin the spirit of both teams, Crutchfield said. “If you play it at the beginning of the year, what does the team have to look forward to?” she said. “No matter who loses, you have to deal with that loss for the whole season. It would just be a downer for the losing team for the rest of the season.”
Having to deal with an early season loss to a cross-town rival may be the least of either teams worries. If coaches or administration fail to reach a decision by Monday, neither team may have the Battle of Murder Creek on their schedules.
Not only would students loose out on the thrill of the game, fans and the school would also be losers if the game was terminated from play schedules.
The anticipation of the game is high on both sides of Murder Creek, Langham said.
The only hope in continuing the game at any point in the season lies in the hands of administration at W.S. Neal according to Hathcock's comment last week.

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