Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Rick Cleveland: Meet the Possum Bowl

If you've never heard of Mississippi's Possum Bowl, you might want to listen in...

Loyd Star players show off trophy

It started in back in 1984. Roe Burns, now a 66-year-old Lincoln County cattle farmer, was a young, energetic head football coach at Loyd Star, near Brookhaven. He was trying to build some football enthusiasm in what was traditionally basketball country.

“We started slow that season,” Burns said “We were 3 and 2 through five games and were about to play a really good Bogue Chitto team that was 5 and 0.”

Opossums were — and are — plentiful in Lincoln County. Then-Loyd Star assistant coach Ricky Smith knew several folks who hunted opossums so he and Burns hatched a plan. Before game week started on Monday morning, Smith hung several dead possums on the goal posts at the football stadium, He hung another in the courtyard at school.

The blame was placed squarely on Bogue Chitto.

“We just felt like we needed something to fire our kids up,” Burns said. “And, you know what, it worked.”

Bogue Chitto led 7-0 into the fourth quarter before Loyd Star scored late, went for two and earned an 8-7 victory. “It was huge for us at the time,” Burns said.

“We let those possums hang for three or four days until they were really ripe,” Burns said. “Then we cut em down and put them under the visiting stands at the football stadium. I can't imagine the Bogue Chitto fans appreciated it much.”

And thus was born the Possum Bowl.

Three years later, there was a Possum Bowl Trophy. Both towns got into it. Still do.

They played the Possum Bowl again last Friday night. Loyd Star won it 55-0 to keep possession of the trophy topped with a gold-plated opossum and to raise this question: Was Bogue Chitto playing possum?
No, of course, they weren't. This is just one of those years when Lloyd Star has a senior-laden, much more talented team than Bogue Chitto, says current Loyd Star coach Adam Cook.

“We just had 'em out-matched,” Cook said.

There were no dead possums involved this year, Cook said, unlike two years ago when Cook and his coaches say they found dead possums all over the field the week of the Loyd Star game.

“I kind of thought something might happen this year, but when I left my office at 2 a.m. Friday morning to go home and try to get some sleep, there was a Lincoln County sheriff's car in the parking lot, so maybe that's why,” Cook said.

Long-time Brookhaven sports writer Tom Goetz chuckles when he talks about the Possum Bowl, and he's seen a few.

“It's been a great rivalry for a long time,” Goetz said. “Both sides have had a lot of fun with the possum part of it. They used to serve possum burgers at the game. There was even a Possum Bowl queen for a while.”

Ah, yes, the Possum Bowl queen and here's the best part: The Possum Bowl queen, way down in conservative Lincoln County, smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt, was always a guy.

That's right. The week of the Bogue Chitto game, the Loyd Star football players would dress in drag for a beauty contest judged by teachers and coaches.

Current Enterprise-Lincoln coach Books Burns knows all about it. He played tight end and quarterback for his daddy, Roe, and twice entered the Possum Bowl queen pageant.

“I had a sister who loaned me her dance recital outfit,” he says. “It was a little tight on me but it stretched out. It was funny, really. All these guys, dressed in dresses and with make-up on.”
And was the dancer's outfit a winner?

“Nah, I got edged out,” he said. “First runner-up. But we did win the game that year.”
In the Possum Bowl, that's the most important part.

Rick Cleveland is a Jackson-based syndicated columnist. His email address is


Anonymous said...

Articles like this by Rick are where he is at his best. I've always enjoyed his coverage of small town sports. Excellent.

Anonymous said...

Visions of Granny Clampett.

Anonymous said...

Always like reading Rick's aeticles. This one is particularly entertaining! Thanks, Rick and KF.

Anonymous said...

For the last three years a few buddies of mine have gathered at a barn near Panther Burn and thrown beer cans at each other heads. We've grown each year and are up to about 12 participants. We gave it a real folksy name - the cornbread and okra gathering of sons of guns. One of us always passes out and we decorate his face like a girl and call him the belle of the gathering.

Tee hee!

Long time Nitta Yuma sports writer Jefferson Davis E. Lee came by last year to watch.

Maybe Rick can write about us next year.

Anonymous said...

No chance 5:02. Rick only writes about interesting things. You drunk, or dressed up as a girl is not anything interesting, and certainly is not news.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS