The postgame display was unmistakeable.
Westside head coach Spoon Risper knew exactly what Friday’s 8-3 loss to Southwest meant. It was the first time Westside had found itself on the short end of the scoreboard against a Bibb County opponent in program history.
In effect, Westside was dethroned. And Risper played right into the situation, treating Southwest head coach Joseph Dupree as the city’s new heavyweight champion and holding Dupree’s arm up for all to see.
It was a wonderful sign of sportsmanship, along with the hugs that followed between the coaching staffs.
The “title” was essentially passed from one family member to another. Both Risper and Dupree were assistants under former head coach Robert Davis, with Dupree serving as the Seminoles’ offensive coordinator for four years before a one-year stint at Henry County and his return to Southwest, his high school alma mater.
Friday’s game looked like a heavyweight fight of sorts. Like when two well-built fighters grind it out for 12 rounds, the offense isn’t going to look as good as the defense. Southwest was held to 30 yards, and Westside couldn’t find ways to keep drives going.
But a combination of punches, in this case a 94-yard kickoff return and a safety, gave Southwest all it needed to claim the decision.
It wasn’t pretty. But it was a victory, a Southwest victory that formally redefined the balance of power among Bibb County School District football teams.
There were signs in recent years that the balance of power was shifting. Last year, Central took Westside to overtime before a Blaine Halvorson field goal settled things. But with the building of some quality programs around the county and the expansion to six high schools knocking Westside’s enrollment from 1,600 in 2003 (when the Seminoles played in the Georgia Dome in the GHSA Class 5A semifinals) down to 1,094 today, a lot has changed at Westside and in Bibb County.
Sooner or later, Westside was going to lose inside the county. That kind of streak doesn’t last forever. But having the streak snapped by a team coached by someone with a tie to the Westside program gives the streak a bit of a poetic end, an end where there won’t really be any hard feelings because of the family ties involved.
At the end of the day, the loss won’t hurt Westside terribly. Sure, there’s the pride that was involved with that streak, but that contest against Southwest was a non-region game. A non-region loss means zero when it comes down to determining playoff spots at the end of the season. Westside is still going to be right in the hunt for a playoff spot in Region 4-3A, and there’s plenty of film that can be worked through — and mistakes that can be corrected — heading into the meat of the season.
For Southwest and the rest of the county, last week’s events demonstrate what programs in other parts of the county can do. Football is starting to become interesting again, and the good-sized crowds at the Ed DeFore Sports Complex and at Saturday’s Macon Touchdown Club Kickoff Classic at Five Star Stadium demonstrate that fans are getting involved, as well.
This 2016 season has been fun so far. And there’s more fun to come.