For more than 100 years, high school football has been a fall tradition in Mississippi.
The first record of games in Warren County is in 1912, and since then generations of young men have played the game. Some have won championships. Others have gotten close. Still more have played just for the love of the game.
Who, though, is the best? Who would win if some of the greatest teams from the 1930s played those from the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s or 2000s?
That argument has spawned as many debates and arguments as there have been games played in the past century, and it’s time to settle it once and for all.
The Vicksburg Post will pit 32 of Warren County’s best high school football teams of all time head-to-head in a single elimination tournament where you, our readers, will pick the winners.
Beginning Friday, we will run a bracket in the print editions and put matchups online at vicksburgpost.com each day. Vote objectively for the teams you think would win — or, probably more realistically, for your favorite teams — and those with the highest vote total in each matchup will advance to the next round.
The tournament will run throughout the month of July. Print edition readers can fill out their brackets each week and mail them or drop them off at our office at 1106 Washington St. Online readers can vote on each round’s matchup at vicksburgpost.com. Voting will conclude at the end of each week.
The 32 teams have been selected and seeded across four regions. They span the entire history of high school football in Warren County, with each decade from the 1930s to the 2010s represented. The criteria for selection included leaving a lasting historical legacy, playoff success, and district and state championships, in addition to a great win-loss record.
Some of the selections were obvious, like the No. 1 seeds —the 1994 Warren Central team that won the MHSAA Class 5A championship; the 1970 Temple squad that won the Red Carpet Bowl; and the county’s only two teams that won the old Big 8 Conference title, the 1955 Carr Central Greenies and 1973 Vicksburg Gators.
Beyond that, it got a little tougher to pick teams for several reasons.
In trying to get a historical cross-section, some teams from the 1930s and 40s were included even though they might be physically outmatched against teams from more recent decades. Their accomplishments against the competition of their day earned them a place in the pantheon, however.
There are also some “duplicates” from successful programs. The 1993 Warren Central team, for example, lost in the state championship game. The Vikings won it all the following season with only minor changes to the roster. The differences in their achievements, however, made both teams worthy of inclusion.
There was also the task of seeding teams Nos. 1-8 in each bracket. Again, some were obvious like the No. 1 seeds mentioned above. Some No. 8 seeds were equally obvious as mere cannon fodder for the bigger guns in the bracket. But parsing out the differences between, say, the 1988 Warren Central team that won the Class 5A title with an 11-3 record and some of their 1970s teams that went undefeated and won the Little Dixie Conference was a bit harder.
Seeding teams also led to some fun matchups that solved a couple of other issues — such as teams from Warren Central, Temple and St. Aloysius facing each other in Round 1 and knocking down the number of duplicate teams.
It also led to intriguing historical matchups of games we never got to see, like the first-round showdown between the 1978 Vicksburg Gators that finished as the runner-up in the Big 8, and the ’78 Warren Central Vikings that won the Little Dixie Conference.
There are also intriguing cross-generational showdowns to debate, like the high-powered offenses of 2001 Vicksburg High and 1957 Culkin Academy.
There is no easy way to simulate these matchups, so we’ll leave it up to those who have seen, cheered and lived with them to decide. We’ll also include some brief bios on each team to help inform your decisions.
Let the debate — and the fun — begin!