August 23, 2008

Here We Go Again

by Carey Meitzler

Another Maroon Tide football season brings about a lot of constants and sometimes a few changes. This year will have both.


First, the constants.


Now, before you get all worked up, be honest with yourself.  These things happen every season. It's why Maroon Tide football

is what it is. Entertaining, sometimes heart stopping (go back and listen to the audio replays), and a happening at home and on

the road.

Once you go through a couple of seasons with a son playing for the Maroon Tide, you gain an appreciation for what these young

men and the coaching staff sacrifice in the off season and pre-season in order to put a quality product on the field each and every

Friday night.  Like him or not, like the play selection or not, Coach Dodd Lee will have a tough, hard nosed football team when

Friday nights roll around.  We could say "What if?" until your Cheetos turn blue, but we all still like to watch the games in person

or listen to them on WRJW because we are members of the Maroon Tide Nation.   Roll Tide Roll.

Now, the changes.


He's baaaaack. Barry Harper, who worked by my side in the booth from 1994-2000, will once again provide color commentary

on the WRJW 1320 AM broadcasts. For the past seven years, we have done the Sam Adkins' Morning After Show on Saturdays

during football seasons where we covered a wide array of sports related topics.  The Morning After is on hold due to my anticipated

traveling to watch my son Dale, Micah Hickman and the rest of the Mississippi College Choctaws on Saturdays.  After looking

at the Choctaw schedule, I keep hearing the lyric "I saw miles and miles of Texas..." in my head.  Some of you won't get that one;

the county music fans will, particularly the Bob Wills' fans, who are chuckling and maybe singing it now.  It grows on you.

                                                    Barry Harper & Carey Meitzler

Barry and I have been close friends for the past 27 years. We played (past tense) softball together when we first met and

developed a long lasting friendship that has now developed into a working relationship. Many wondered how that situation

would work out, but we never worried about it because we both realized that Barry was always right and that makes it easy.

Ok, I was right once. I think I was? Ok, maybe that wasn't me after all.  I'll have to get back to you on that one.


The past few years, I was the one dishing out the jabs at Jason Pigott and Clay Sweet on the radio broadcasts. Now, with

Barry's return, I will once again become the bulls' eye as it was in the 90s. Barry has one of the keenest minds I've ever

been around. He's a fast thinker, sets you up for a one-liner without you knowing it, and also knows a lot about football

and always has been able to relay what's happening to the listeners.


In the booth, Barry replaces Jason Pigott, who was my right hand for the past five years. Jason recently took a job that

makes it very hard for him to be available on Friday nights. “Gator” did a great job preparing and delivering. On the sideline,

Donald Balch takes over after filling in a couple of times last year for Clay Sweet. Clay also changed jobs, but he will still be

able to do PRCC games with another good friend of ours, WRJW alumnus Jason Baker. Clay was a lot like Barry in that he

would point out things about the game in progress that would be missed by the casual fan. At the same time, Clay had a

knack for his own brand of comic relief that was priceless. I'll miss both Jason and Clay.


Donald, get ready, because Barry will unleash his humor, rash of one liners, and whatever else crosses his mind at a

moment's notice. As you learned many years ago in scouts, Be Prepared.


The Maroon Tide will once again put a good team on the field this season. It appears the Tide will throw the ball a little

more than in the past, but it is hard to win at this level without being able to run it effectively. They have a lot of speed

and some girth as well. After a grueling pre-district schedule that includes Moss Point away, Madison Central at home,

at Oak Grove, and home against Pascagoula, the Tide should be ready to make a run at the Division 8-4A title if they

can stay away from injuries and get some “game” experience under their belt. I think this team will get better as the season



The past two years of Maroon Tide football produced a lot of players playing at the college level. The current team has

some players who will do the same. Keep an eye on Jonathan “Big Jon” Billups. Actually, you'll need both because they

don't call him “Big” for nothing. Also, T'Darryl Grays, Reginald Bailey, Chris Nixon, Jacob Hickman, Kell Goff, Gabe

Hinojosa, and other returning players make this team capable of another playoff run.


Ok, enough is enough. Here we go again as countdown to kickoff is underway. Roll Tide Roll.