Sideline ViewsBy DALE MCKEE,
Ole Miss fired head football coach Matt Luke Sunday night. Speculation was the new Ole Miss Chancellor Glenn Boyce was not happy with how Luke handled the Elijah Moore unsportsmanship like conduct penalty in the final seconds of the Egg Bowl. Ole Miss will owe Luke and his staff almost $15 million in contract buyouts. Luke was only 6-18 in SEC play and 15-21 overall in his three years as head coach. This year, the Rebels (4-8, 2-6) were plaqued by close losses to Memphis, Cal, A&M, Auburn and MSU. Luke was stuck with NCAA hardships and loss of scholarships and a bowl band because of the Rebels’ football program violations under Hugh Freeze.
High School State Football Championships
The big news in Mississippi this upcoming week will be the MHSAA High School football championship at USM. The high school football championship will have kickoffs at 11 a.m. and 3 and 7 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. The 6A title game will have the Oxford Chargers (13-1) led by J. J. Pegues going against the Oak Grove Warriors. The 6-3, 290-pound Peques is a 4-star athlete who plays everywhere on the field. He has played tight end, wide receiver, quarterback, running back and H-Back on offense for the Chargers and also starts on defense. Pegues has eight SEC scholarship offers in hand. Quarterback Damon Stewart will lead Oak Grove (11-3) and their potent offense against a solid Oxford defense in Friday’s 7 p.m. contest. The 5-A game on Saturday night is going to be classic between 3-time champions West Point (14-1) and the unbeaten ball control freaks from Picayune. The Friday morning 3A contest will have a couple of frequent visitors to the state championship in Noxubee County (10-5) and Jefferson Davis County (9-6). The Saturday morning battle will have Corinth (13-1) and Poplarville (9-5) in 4A while the 3 p.m. Friday contest will have Nanih Waiya (13-1) and Lumberton (12-3) in 1-A play. Also don’t miss the 3 p.m. Saturday battle, as Cleveland North Side defense will meet the passing machine of Ty Keyes and once beaten Taylorsville. Keyes has thrown 41 TD passes for the Tartars while North Side (14-0) has allowed only 34 points all year.
Eagles, Bulldogs bowl bound
Mississippi State (6-6) and Southern Miss (7-5) regular season games are over, but both look to receive bowl bids Sunday. Ole Miss with their last second loss to MSU ended the season at 4-8.
Alcorn (8-3) will host Southern University (8-4) this Saturday on the Reservation for the SWAC championship. The Braves won the regular season matchup, 21-7, in October. The winner will receive a bid to the Celebration Bowl to be played in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on December 21.
Who is No. 4?
Most of the college football world is probably ecstatic that there will be no Alabama for this first time since 2014 in the College Football Playoffs. We know that LSU, Ohio State and Clemson are in the CFP. The No. 4 spot will between Utah, Oklahoma, Baylor or Georgia, depending on this weekend’s Conference Championship games.
Saints celebrate NFC South Title in Atlanta
The New Orleans Saints did not play their best game but still feasted on the Atlanta Falcons Thanksgiving night to win their third straight NFC South title. This week the Saints will host the S.F. 49ers in a key matchup that could determine home field advantage throughout the NFL playoffs. Both teams enter the game with 10-2 marks.
1,000 Point Club
Quitman native Shonte Hailes scored 15 points and joined USM’s 1,000-point club as she led the Southern Miss Lady Eagles over VCU. The Lady Eagles are off to a 6-1 start; their only loss was to Mississippi State. The Lady Bulldogs (6-1) lost for the first time this year, a five-point loss to No. 3 Stanford in a game played in Victoria, British Columbia.
Dale is a Waynesboro resident that has been writing sports since 1973 in Mississippi.