• John Macon Gillespie

Faded Glory: West Oktibbeha County Football

This is a part of a larger series titled "Faded Glory" which takes a look at abandoned Mississippi football fields and programs.

Straddling the border of Oktibbeha and Webster Counties lies the small town of Maben, Mississippi.

Maben is one of three incorporated communities in Oktibbeha County and is a mere 20 miles from Mississippi State University in Starkville.

Like many towns in Mississippi, Maben has a pulse, albeit a weak one, and its high school fell victim to two consolidations after the turn of the century.

Nestled in the northwest corner of the town lies the remnants of a small high school and its collapsing athletic facilities. Founded as Maben High School, the school's Blue Devils had limited success on the gridiron in the MHSAA playoff era (since 1981). The Blue Devils made the playoffs four times in the 20 years before its consolidation, had four winning seasons, 17 losing seasons and three winless seasons.

Come 2002, however, on the heels of the Oktibbeha County School District being placed under state conservatorship, Maben and Sturgis High Schools consolidated to form West Oktibbeha County High School. High school students were bused from all across the western portion of Oktibbeha County to the former Maben campus.

West Oktibbeha experienced a roller coaster of success and failure as a football program with two playoff appearances in 2006 and 2011 but six losing seasons, including a winless campaign in 2013. Although the Timberwolves only made the playoffs twice, they garnered seven winning seasons, including their inaugural 2002 campaign.

After the Oktibbeha County School District fell under state conservatorship once again in 2013, the future of West and East Oktibbeha County High Schools fell in jeopardy, and in 2015, the school district (and the schools) were dissolved, and high school students were relocated to Starkville High School.

The final season for West Oktibbeha resulted in a 1-9 final record with the one win coming against winless cross-county rival East Oktibbeha, and its former athletic facilities are now left in ruin nearly five years after the school's closing.

#FadedGlory #WestOktibbeha

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