Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Lewis: Drew High School’s Gridiron Frozen in Time

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Drew High School was the starting platform for Ole Miss legend Archie Manning but has since closed.
Photo by Webb Lewis

It would be hard to find an Ole Miss fan who hadn’t heard of the sleepy little Delta town of Drew. After all, long before the Rebel Rousers were singing “The Ballad of Archie Who” or the speed limit on the beautiful campus of Ole Miss was changed to 18, Archie Manning was a Drew High Eagle.

Photo courtesy Ole Miss Athletics
Photo courtesy Ole Miss Athletics

Drew sits just 81 miles away from Oxford and its story has been told time and time again. It was that small town with a soda shop and old men sitting outside the hardware store talking about the weather and football. The kids rode their bikes or walked everywhere they went. The churches were packed on Sunday mornings. It was the epitome of small town Mississippi.

Although summer was spent working on the farms and trying to survive the Delta heat, the fall belonged to the Eagles.

Drew High School sits in the center of the town. The football field is a few blocks away. On Fridays, families and friends would walk the streets from their homes to that dusty gridiron that sat under the gaze of the Drew water tower to cheer on the Eagles.

The people of Drew got to see firsthand a young Archie Manning scrambling around, leaving defenders strewn about all over the field. What the SEC and football world would learn years later, the Eagles already knew.

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Photo by Webb Lewis

Sadly, a few years back, Drew High School let out for summer break and never opened their doors again. The school now sits boarded up with chains on the doors. The dust filled halls that once echoed with laughter, lockers slamming and bells ringing are now dark and empty.

A few blocks over, still underneath the mighty water tower with bold lettering that spells ‘DREW’ is a gridiron frozen in time. A place that erupted with cheers from fans for decades now sits in silence. It’s a reminder of what once was.

It’s a haunting place. To stand on that field thinking of all the games played and memories made, knowing that the story of the Drew High Eagles will not go on. There are no new chapters left to write. However, because the past has been so great, there is still hope.

The school may be closed and the Eagles may have played their last football game, but there is still life beneath the Drew water tower. Memories of Archie and so many other local heroes are what is keeping that football field alive.

While it lives, if you haven’t been there already, that field is a must see for Rebels and football fans alike. Because, long before Peyton and Eli were winning MVPs and Super Bowls, there was Archie Manning and he was a Drew High Eagle.

Webb Lewis of Southern Elite Sports Media is a HottyToddy.com contributor and can be reached at sesmississippi@gmail.com.

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