HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Just moments after the Mississippi High School Activities Association announced Tuesday the delay of football season and consequent cancellation of the first two weeks, Hattiesburg head coach Tony Vance’s phone began to ring off the hook.
Players, fans and coaches wanted to know the status of the 99th “Battle for the Lil’ Brown Jug,” slated for August 29.
Vance had been thinking about this possibility for weeks and quickly called Laurel head coach Ryan Earnest to reschedule. For now, it appears the longest continuously played rivalry in Mississippi will remain just that.
Hattiesburg and Laurel will open the season at D.I. Patrick Stadium during the week of September 4. It is still be determined whether the game is played on Friday or Saturday.
Both teams sacrifice their bye weeks while Laurel’s week three contest against Wayne County will move to week five.
“When I heard we may miss these first two games, I was probably the first one to jump on the phone with coach Earnest and say, ‘Hey we have to find a way to keep this thing going man for both communities,’” Vance said. “Because it’s that important for both communities. Definitely one of the greatest rivals in the state of Mississippi.”
“Really want to thank the administration over at Wayne County for being so cooperative,” Earnest said. “I want to tip my hat to coach Vance. He did a lot of work helping me out. This rivalry is something very special. It survived Hurricane Camille, it survived Hurricane Katrina, it even survived World War II. So, it was really, really important to us and really important to our two communities that we were able to get this game in and we’re both really excited that we get to continue this rivalry.”
The Golden Tornadoes lead the all-time series 49-44-5, reclaiming the Jug last season with a 35-19 win.
The MHSAA football season is scheduled to begin on September 4 with practice beginning August 17 and scrimmages permitted on August 28. The volleyball, cross country and swim seasons have been postponed to August 24.