Division City

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 31, 2006

Selma-Southside rivalry heats back up

By George L. Jones

The Selma Times-Journal

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This is the game.

The city of Selma can almost be drawn up like a pie chart that’s split exactly down the middle.

Your blood is either light blue and gold or black and red.

Not even the fact that Selma and Southside play in different classifications cools the heat that simmers on the surface of this rivalry.

Because for most people, this is the most important game of the year.

“It’s big. It goes back before I started coaching here,” said Southside coach Chris Raymond. “When I played college ball, I played with a couple of guys from Selma, and they talked about it. It’s gotten to the point where folks that have graduated from Southside don’t take their kids to Selma.”

It’s still a game of mixed emotions, no matter who is involved.

Selma won last year’s game, but Southside went on to make the playoffs – something the Saints can’t claim.

Even though the game doesn’t immediately affect either team’s chances of reaching the postseason, it’s still a big game to win.

And it doesn’t hurt when you’re popping the collar of a shirt bearing the victor’s colors.

But the Saints are looking at the bigger picture. All the talk during the summer has been on the new brand of Selma football.

Winning the game is not as likely unless they play the way they believe they can.

“It’s a rivalry game, no doubt, but I’m more concerned with how our kids are going to do with a new offensive coordinator, a new head coach and a new defensive coordinator,” Selma coach Brian Montgomery said. “We’ve got to focus on our execution and on this new system. We’re dealing with a new offense and a new defense. But I’ve got confidence they’re ready. They’ve been in school three weeks without playing.

“They’re ready to get out here and put everything together.”

If anything, Selma will have a better idea of the progress it has made – or needs to make – going into a Thursday night game against Jeff Davis next week.

Both coaches say, however, that they are keeping realistic views of the game. The fans hype the game more than anyone, and the players still have to realize they have nine more regular season contests to get through.

“I don’t overemphasize it because to me, it’s just a game,” Raymond said. “It doesn’t make or break our season, and it doesn’t get us in the playoffs. We still have to get ready for T.R. Miller.”