It’s time for some football, let’s eat!

Clint Faust, new head football coach in Bruce, is combing through whatever information he can scrape up to learn something about the very different schedule his Trojans are facing this season beginning Friday at Aberdeen. Dr. Bruce Longest and I are doing our own intense scouting, but with a slightly different mission.
Faust hopes to learn of defensive alignments and offensive systems. Dr. Longest and I are digging for vital reports on steak sandwiches, bbq sauce, perfect onion rings and hand cut fries.

Joel McNeece

Joel McNeece

In my youth, the arrival of high school football brought about excitement for the clashing of pads, the sounds of the band and post game celebrations of a big road win. Points on a scoreboard don’t mean as much to you later in life, only whether it was preceded by a good meal.

I’ve been covering high school football in Calhoun County for right at two decades now, but this marks the beginning of my 15th season of Dr. Longest and I traveling together every Friday night.
Over the past 14 years we’ve had some remarkable pre-game and post-game meals.

The most memorable trips have been to The Delta. I can’t count the number of times we’ve had tamales at Doe’s in Greenville. Once we went prior to the game for tamales, then returned after the game for steaks at owner Charles Signa’s insistence. We’re accommodating if nothing else.
Our first trip to South Delta High School in the early 2000s led us to The Onward Store south of Rolling Fork. We filled up on some very good boudin and tamales. Equally memorable was some of us piling into the truck afterwards to head to the game and turning around to hear Dr. Longest speaking French to a couple of Canadian motorcycle riders at the gas pumps touring the Delta.

We’ve been to the Como Steakhouse three times; Knight’s Drive-In at Amory for the best “Steak Sandwich” anywhere; Ground Zero in Clarksdale where Bruce loves the fried grits; the Crystal Grill in Greenwood where we all love the pie; and Joe’s White Front Cafe in Rosedale.
We’ve eaten at two Crawdad’s, two Woody’s, and hit every Krystal in North Mississippi (always after the game). Two places we patronized no longer exist – Jefferson Place in Tupelo and K.C.’s in Cleveland.

We’ve done Italian, Mexican, burger dives, barbeque joints, pizza shops, tamale shacks, fish houses and Blues clubs.
As many great spots as we’ve enjoyed, not every destination can offer great dining options. We’ve had our share of stinkers, from bad Chinese to steaks with the texture and taste of a spare tire. You live and learn off the beaten path on Friday nights in the fall.

This week we go to Aberdeen, where we welcome suggestions. Last visit there a few years back we went to Friendship House. Other trips this season include East Union (which we know nothing of), Strayhorn (could involve Como), and Water Valley, which we know well and seems to have a new restaurant opening every other week.

I’m not good at predicting victories on the field, but when it comes to pre-game meals, I’m confident we’re a lock for a deep postseason run.

Email Joel McNeece at joelmcneece@gmail.com