By Tim Ward
The hype of this matchup started the first week of school via twitter. That’s right, TWITTER. Callaway and Murrah seniors raged a verbal warfare that lasted about 48 hours with both sides eventually saying, “See you September 7th.”
Around 11 p.m. Aug. 31, the battle resumed. More people were involved this time. All grades, faculty, and even alumni were all invited to weigh in on the battle. While the verbal jabs were serious and quite comical at times, everything went to another level Sept. 5. Murrah was vandalized. Callaway and other things were literally spray painted on the outside walls of the school. Over 20 windows were broken. Jackson Public Schools (JPS) is investigating the situation.
On the actual gridiron, Callaway looked three to five steps behind Murrah. Playing without their head coach, who had been taken to the hospital earlier in the day, Callaway held their own until late in the second quarter. With the game 7 to 7, Callaway had a touchdown called back because of a penalty.
Murrah erupted for 21 points right before halftime to extend to a 28 to 7 lead. No one in the packed Newell Field stadium expected a score quite like this for the entire game, let alone a half. Murrah unleashed an aerial assault that the Chargers were simply unprepared for enroute to a 41 to 7 victory.
Callaway has one of the best defenses in the state this year, but they were no match for Murrah. Quarterback Vonnie Howard threw five touchdown passes; two of those went to sophomore sensation Malik Dear.
Howard had a very impressive stat line, 16-20 for 249 yards, five touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
Since that opening game against Hattiesburg where he threw two interceptions, Howard has not thrown another one, but has thrown nine touchdown passes, including two to lead a Murrah rally against Provine last week.
Murrah’s defense played good football as well. Entering Friday night’s game, the Chargers were averaging 24 points per game. They were only able to manage one touchdown. They shot themselves in the foot with three turnovers. Turnovers against an opportunistic defense can kill a team.
After the game, some Murrah fans could be heard saying, “They made them boys mad painting on their school like that.”
In a heated rivalry like this, no team wants to give the other a psychological or motivational advantage. Callaway was vandalized one year with some students painting Murrah on the front of the school. Murrah lost the game later that week.
Both schools have a bye this week. When they resume, Callaway will have another arch rival game with Provine. Provine is coming off an impressive win in Clinton. Murrah will be hosting Greenville-Weston.
Now that the game some people call the “JPS SUPER BOWL” is over, teams will be focusing very heavily in the next couple of weeks on their district opponents. Callaway and Murrah are in pretty good position to make the playoffs. Murrah is currently 3 & 1 while Callaway is 2 & 2.