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  • Matt Colville

Dantzler Stadium – Moss Point Tigers


Photos by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71

Dantzler Stadium 3400 Dantzler St Moss Point, MS 39563



Year Opened: 1925

Capacity: 8,000

 

Mississippi’s Own Death Valley – Dantzler Stadium Bayou Tigers


Perhaps no other high school football stadium in the state of Mississippi has seen more success and history on its field than Moss Point Dantzler Stadium in Moss Point, MS. Eight State Championship Game appearances, five State Title wins, 31 playoff appearances, 20+ straight winning seasons, plus countless NFL and Division I college players, and it’s safe to say Moss Point High School has seen it all.


Football began being played on the site in 1925 with the current grandstands being constructed in the late 1940’s. The stadium is named after the L.N. Dantzler Lumber Company, which at one time was a sawmill that sat on the river, and the fact that the high school is located on Dantzler Street. Not much has changed at the stadium since its opening over 60 years ago, except the field name – in 2013 the playing field was renamed Jerry Alexander Field; Alexander was a coaching legend at Moss Point and is the school’s all-time winningest coach with a record of 167-55. In his first year at the program he won a State Championship (1991), and before retiring in 2007 he had won four more.


In the mid 90’s and early 2000’s there was no other team in the state more feared than Alexander’s Tiger team. He created a dynasty and had many future college and NFL players play under him – Mississippi State quarterbacks Derrick Taite and Kevin Fant, Georgia Tech quarterback Demarius Bilbo, current Astros reliever Tony Sipp, and Minnesota Vikings defensive end Tom Johnson are all players who came out of Moss Point and played for Coach Alexander. Though the football program is not what it once was, there’s no denying the fact that at one time this was not only a Mississippi football powerhouse, but a national powerhouse as well. The school was consistently ranked in the top 10 in the country during the late 90’s thru early 2000’s, and the team would play other high school powerhouses from all over country on ESPN during this time period as well.


Food & Beverage 2

There are two concessions stands located at Dantzler Stadium, one on the home side and one on the visitor’s side. The stand on the home side is located under the stadium, and the stand on the visitor’s side is located as soon as you enter the venue. The concessions are about what you would expect, nothing seems to stand out, though the prices are pretty cheap which is always a plus. I’m not sure about the home side, but the burgers and hot dogs on of the visitor’s side are grilled right outside the stand, so I know they are being freshly cooked.


The concessions are priced as follows – nachos, hamburgers, and corn dogs ($3); hot dogs & pizza slices ($2); popcorn, pickles, chips, & sunflower seeds ($1). Coca-Cola is the soft drink provider, with bottles of Powerade, Dasani water, and 24 oz. bottled Coke for $2 each.


Atmosphere 3

There’s nothing special about the overall appearance of Dantzler Stadium. The grandstand is rusting and aging, and the press box is small and outdated. But the location and view are what makes this place so special – the north side of the stadium is open and features two several hundred-year-old oak trees, while behind those is the Pascagoula River, and behind that is the Highway 613 high-rise. There is not a better view at any Mississippi high school than sitting in Dantzler Stadium on a Friday night watching the sunset.


The field faces north and south with open end zones and the gorgeous view of the river located on the north side, and the scoreboard and football facilities located on the south side. The west grandstand is the visitor’s section and is the basic aluminum style bleacher setup; the east side is the home side which has a bleacher grandstand as well. There is nothing to write home about on the home side as the display of support by the Moss Point fans is not very good; it’s a shame how far this school district has fallen in recent years. Their band only has about 20 members in it, and the stands are only half full. The visiting side brings all the support and contributes to most of the crowd noise. Because of the rivalry matchup I gave the atmosphere one more star than it deserves.


Neighborhood 2

Moss Point High School is located in a mostly residential area. The area around Dantzler Stadium, especially on River Road to the west, is very pretty. The road winds around Krebs Lake just south of the Pascagoula River and presents a very scenic drive, especially at sunset. The area around the high school is mostly just houses, and there is not a lot to do in the neighborhood.


A short drive east about a mile will take you to downtown Moss Point. This area is not much of a downtown like you would expect but does have a nice River Park that plays hosts to all types of events throughout the year. During the fall the whole park turns into a pumpkin patch, and during the Christmas season it hosts Christmas on the River, which is a huge parade of boats decorated with Christmas lights – it is truly a sight to see. There is also a spot where you can rent kayaks and travel up the Escatawpa and Pascagoula Rivers and view the wildlife. Or, if you have your own boat you could even camp out on one of the many sandbars and little islands throughout the river as well.


There are definitely not a whole lot of places to eat at Moss Point, but there are a few. In downtown Burnham Drugs is one of my favorites – the place looks like a regular local pharmacy from the outside, but the inside houses an old 50s style diner that serves typical foods such as burgers and sandwiches. The food is very cheap; you can get a burger and fries for less than 4 dollars. The diner is only open during lunch though and has limited seating, so make sure you get there early to beat the lunch crowd.


Another place I recommend is Dubs, one of the few locally owned restaurants in Moss Point, located on Main Street just south of downtown. This Moss Point staple has been open for decades and serves really good fried foods. Another locally owned establishment is Faye’s Kitchen, but this is located on the east side of the city and in a rundown part of the town. Faye’s has been open for years dating back to the days when International Paper had a paper mill across the street. Though the paper mill is now gone Faye’s is still open, and though it looks a little rundown from the outside, it serves the best soul food in Moss Point.


Besides the restaurants, there is really only one bar I can recommend going to and that would be Scotty’s. Also on Main Street, Scotty’s is a pretty cool bar if you want live music in the city. Scotty’s has good food as well, though the place is really small, and is located in a rundown shopping center.


As you could guess Moss Point is not exactly the safest city and is consistently ranked as one of Mississippi’s most dangerous. However, you should be fine walking around the high school and surrounding areas, and even the River Road area is nice and safe. The areas that are most dangerous would be Main Street in downtown to the Pascagoula city limits, and east Moss Point behind Walmart. Even though some of the restaurants I mentioned are in these areas, I would advise using caution when in the parking lots. You should be safe if you go from your car into Scotty’s or Dub’s, but I don’t recommend venturing too far off and you should always be aware of your surroundings.


If staying in town for the night I recommend not staying in Moss Point, but instead traveling up Highway 613 to the I-10 exit in Escatawpa just a few miles north. Here you’ll find countless hotel options, as well as all the basic fast food restaurants. The casinos of Biloxi are about 30 minutes away as well for those who want to gamble.


Fans 4

On my most recent visit, Dantzler Stadium hosted Jackson County’s fiercest rivalry “The Battle of the Cats” as the Tigers faced the Pascagoula Panthers. These two schools first faced off in 1925 and are pretty evenly matched with an overall record of 37-40-3 in favor of the Panthers. Just four miles separate these two schools and this matchup usually opens the high school football season each year. This is one of the more intense rivalries on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, so it’s safe to say the score is higher during this game based on the fact that students and alumni from both schools show up to support their local high school, as the two cities legitimately do not like each other. Not every game here is this well-attended, however; usually the stands at Dantzler Stadium are only about half full, which is a far cry of how it was 20 years ago.


Access 3

Moss Point High School is a pretty easy place to find – if coming from the east or west, Interstate 10 will be the fastest way to get here. Just take the interstate to exit 68 which is Highway 613, about 2 miles west of the Alabama state line, then take the highway south about three miles through downtown Moss Point, turn right on Dantzler Street, and the school will be on the left with the stadium right across the street. If you want to take the scenic route I recommend taking the River Road route, located a couple blocks west of Dantzler Stadium.


Return on Investment 3

Tickets are fairly cheap; $6 gets you general admission seating anywhere in the stadium. Because of the size of the stadium there are no premium seats, but factor in the cheap ticket prices with the cheap concessions prices plus the fact that you are getting to see a historic high school venue, so the return on investment is good at Dantzler Stadium. The breathtaking sunset view to the north is almost worth the price of admission on its own.


Extras 2

One extra for the view; I have not seen a better view at a high school football venue than here at Dantzler Stadium, especially since many of the games here start at 7 pm. For August and September games you are almost guaranteed a view of the pretty sunset, but sit in the middle section of the stadium, or on the south side for the best views of it.


Also, if coming to Dantzler Stadium, if you have time make sure you take the River Road route as the views along there are gorgeous as well. The whole area is basically nestled in a swamp, and the Spanish moss hangs from the trees over the road.


Final Thoughts

Though the Moss Point Tigers football team is not what it once was, there is no denying the history and success of the Tigers program; Jerry Alexander really turned this school into a football powerhouse. Though Dantzler Stadium needs to be fixed up and it’s not what it was 20 years ago, it still remains a great place to watch a football game on a Friday night.

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