Andalusia, Straughn should play

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 29, 2003

It looks like Andalusia and Straughn will meet on the football field at the start of the 2004 season. It's about time.

Andalusia and Opp have a long, storied rivalry but it just isn't as intense as was back in the day. Straughn has a rivalry with Red Level and the T.R. Miller-Straughn football contest will become a "must watch" game. A Straughn-Andalusia game would be just as, if not more, interesting.

An Andalusia-Straughn rivalry is perfect. The students at the two schools know each other. Some students went to elementary school together and still attend the same church. The game would be all about bragging rights. Is there anything better to play for than pride and the opportunity to own bragging rights for an entire year? Of course not, that's why the Alabama-Auburn rivalry is one of the greatest in college football.

The old argument that Andalusia should not play Straughn because there is nothing to gain no longer holds true. Fans used to say that if Andalusia wins they have nothing to boast about because it was a much larger school and should win. The argument also held that if Straughn won it would be a major upset and hurt Andalusia.

It is the same argument Alabama fans use when debating why the Crimson Tide should not play UAB or Troy State. Some Tide fans even think Alabama should not play Southern Miss because they have nothing to gain if they win the game.

Those arguments do not hold true for an annual Andalusia-Straughn football contest because the two schools are very similar. They are about the same size when it comes to enrollment, even though Andalusia is still larger. Straughn is in Class 3A and Andalusia is in Class 4A - that's not much of a difference.

Andalusia already plays Class 3A schools and Straughn goes up against Class 4A teams.

Both Andalusia and Straughn also play tough schedules that include some road games played very far away. The expenses spent on traveling for Regional games the two schools must play is high. Why add to the traveling expenses by playing an extra road game every other year against a school an hour or more away?

Sure, Andalusia and Charles Henderson have a history and some even consider it to be a rivalry. Andalusia, however, would do much better to stay closer to home and play Straughn. Why travel an hour to play a Class 5A school when a good Class 3A school is less than 15 minutes away?

Straughn, by the same account, does not need to play Pleasant Home or Florala. Straughn has grown to the point where it is much larger than the two Class 1A schools in the county.

The game is also a great idea because it pits two good programs against each other. Both teams already play very tough schedules and this game would serve as a good measuring stick at the beginning of the season.

Andalusia is scheduled to play three ranked teams this season and two teams which just missed being ranked. The Bulldogs face Charles Henderson and Opp this season and both received points in the Alabama Sports Writers Association Preseason Poll. The ranked opponents on the Bulldogs' schedule include the No. 2-ranked Class 4A squad in UMS-Wright. Andalusia also faces the No. 7-ranked Class 4A Thomasville team and the No. 1-ranked T.R. Miller Tigers from Class 3A.

Straughn is slated to hit the gridiron against five teams which received points in the preseason poll. Opp, W.S. Neal and Red Level all received points in the poll, but are not ranked. Straughn also plays the No. 1-ranked Class 3A T.R. Miller Tigers and the No. 2-ranked team in Class 3A in Pike County.

Finally, Andalusia should play Straughn because it would be a great game.

- John Wallace is the sports editor of, and columnist for, The Andalusia Star-News. He may be reached at