The South Pike-McComb football game has represented the biggest cross-county rivalry in Southwest Mississippi for decades.
Of the 44 games played between the two teams, South Pike has won 24, while the Tigers have won 18. Two of the contests ended in a tie.
The Eagles added to their win record Friday night at Southwest Mississippi Community College’s John. I. Hurst Stadium when they came back from a first-half deficit and scored 20 unanswered points to pull out a 28-18 win. (See game story, Page A10.)
Unlike most sports rivalries, the South Pike-McComb rivalry is unique. With the schools separated by just six miles, the matchup is is similar to a feud between siblings in which one is always trying to beat the other for bragging rights.
“Back when I played, we played hard, fought to the end and congratulated each other after the game,” said Kenny Brumfield, a 1975 McComb graduate.
Grover Hodges, who graduated from South Pike in 1975, said bragging rights were the biggest stake back then.
“We just wanted to meet up with them after the game and be able to laugh and talk noise all night,” Hodges said of his counterparts who played for the Tigers.
But neither team from Brumfield and Hodges’ senior year got to do much bragging, as the 1975 contest ended in a 6-6 tie.
The first South Pike-McComb game can be traced back to 1937, but the two teams rarely played each other until 1981, when the schools became part of the same region, bringing an annual face-off.
The rivalry became even more intense during the early 1990s as both schools became state champion contenders on a yearly basis.
The two schools faced off in the 1992 South State Championship, with South Pike coming out on top, 35-14.
The Tigers got the best of the Eagles during the regular season of 1994, taking home the district championship. They met again for the South State that year, with Eagles defeating the Tigers 33-14.
The rivalry reached its peak in 1995, when ESPN featured the game on Scholastic Sports America. The Eagles won the nail biter 14-7, earning them the district championship.
McComb returned the favor following year, defeating the Eagles 25-21 to become district champions.
The rivalry has remained super-competitive and just as intense since then.
In the 23 games played since then, the Eagles hold a 13-10 advantage.
This year’s game saw some of the old allure return as both schools got off to great starts.
The Eagles came into Friday night’s game red-hot and remain undefeated.
The Tigers of McComb also started the year off well, winning four of their first five games.
The buzz grew even bigger when it was announced that this year’s game would take place at SMCC, giving the fans and alumni a neutral location to go root on their respective schools.
A social media war between the two schools alumni reached epic levels.
The two schools did not disappoint, giving the standing-room-only crowd its money’s worth.