In a unique twist Thursday night, Dwight Bowling will be a visitor in his hometown.
Bowling faces the task of coaching a visiting team in his hometown of Smithville when he leads the Sulligent Blue Devils against the Smithville Seminoles.
Bowling embarks on his fifth season as Sulligent”s coach and will roam visitor”s sideline at Smithville for the first time after being on the other side of the field for 28 years as the coach of the Seminoles.
“The visitor”s side is going to be quite different,” Bowling said in anticipation of playing his former school. “It”s exciting to get to go back and play on that field. I”m looking forward to it. I know it”s going to be a good game.
“Of course I still live there in Smithville and see the Smithville people on a regular basis. In the atmosphere of the battle, it will be interesting to see how things go.”
Ironically, Bowling will be a visitor at a field that is named in his honor. The field has been named Dwight Bowling Field in recognition of him coaching the Seminoles to two state championships.
Bowling is 36-15 in four years as the coach at Sulligent after he won 189 games and lost only 63 at Smithville.
Bowling still has strong feelings for the people of Smithville since he still makes his home there, but he knows where his allegiance will be for the game.
“It”s sort of bitter-sweet in a way,” Bowling said of the matchup. “You spend so many years there that you”re one of them. But I promise you when we go in there Thursday night, my job is to try to win ballgames and have my team ready to play, and I”m going to do my best to try to beat them. I wish them luck and hope they win the rest of them, but this one I”m going to have to be against them.”
Adding another twist to the game, it will be a jamboree for Sulligent and count as a regular season game for Smithville. Sulligent is in Alabama nad Alabama schools don”t start the regular season until next week, while Smithville is in Mississippi and Mississippi schools kick off this week.
“It will count on their record, but not on ours,” Bowling said. “We”re playing it as a jamboree, but we”re playing a full game. We”re having to play it that way because they”re counting it on their record and they need it as far as tiebreakers and things like that for the playoffs.”
n South Lamar at Pickens County: In anticipation of kicking off the season against one Class 2A state semifinalist from a year ago, the South Lamar Stallions will play a jamboree against another Thursday night.
South Lamar will prepare for its season opener against Lamar County a week from Friday by playing Pickens County in a jamboree in Reform, Ala.
“You have questions are we really prepared to play a team of (Pickens County”s) caliber?” South Lamar coach Josh Harper said. “The thing I”m looking forward to is you want to play teams of this caliber. That”s why we”re starting out with Pickens County to get ready for Vernon (South Lamar). Those are two of the best teams around this area. It gives us a good measuring stick. The speed we”re going to face Thursday is only going too make us better defensively and offensively as well. It”s going to show us where we”re at.”
Pickens County and Lamar County came up a game short of playing each other in the Class 2A state championship game last season. Pickens County was eliminated in the semifinals by Reeltown, while Lamar County made it just as far and lost to Clay County.
“We go from one strong team to the next and then we go into region play and that”s exactly why we scheduled this game (against Pickens County),” Harper said. “We”re only going to get better when we play strong teams. We”re playing two strong teams right off the bat.”
South Lamar and Pickens County are going to play four quarters with the varsities playing the first two quarters.
Harper is interesting to see if his teams shows any signs of improvement in the jamboree against Pickens County after winning just one game and losing nine a season ago.
Harper does believe he”ll put a better team on the field this season.
“I feel good that we have improved leaps and bounds from last year,” Harper said. “I couldn”t ask for better effort from the boys. We just hope we can show up and play a good ballgame against Pickens County.”
The game is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
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