By Myra Bean
North Panola will have to play the rest of the season without the help of senior running back/linebacker Lingo Montgomery after he tore some ligaments in his leg last week in practice, according to head coach Clifton Davis Jr.
“He is on the sidelines with us, motivating others on and in good spirits,” Davis said.
Tonight would have been Montgomery’s final homecoming game to play as the Cougars (2-2 overall, 1-0 district) prepare to take on the Byhalia Indians (0-4, 0-1) in district play.
Byhalia’s record is deceptive as the Indians have taken on some big guns in football. They opened the season against two 5A schools Horn Lake and Desoto Central and lost 33-6 and 42-0, respectively. The third week they took on Bolivar Central out of Tennessee and lost 30-0. Last week in the first district game of the season, the Indians and the Lewisburg Patriots battled with Lewisburg winning 41-20.
“Don’t let their record fool you,” Davis said. “They will be real hungry when they come here.”
Davis said Byhalia is doing some of the same things that it did last year, even though they are under a new head coach. He picked up the same scheme the team employed.
Byhalia coach Markeith Washington hails from Greenville but played for the University of Arkansas. He says he is a good friend of North Panola principal Randy Ball.
“They are throwing the ball around a lot,” Davis said. “They have a big tight end, No. 87, they get the ball to. They have a good running back in No. 11. The quarterback is an athlete and he scrambles a lot. They will run four and five receivers all night long.”
Davis said Byhalia’s offensive scheme will test the Cougar secondary.
“We have to rush them all night long and not give them as much opportunity to throw,” Davis said.
Last year North Panola was the only team in the district to defeat Byhalia, who won the district. North Panola won last year 47-12. Last year Byhalia defeated Lewisburg 66-28 and shocked 3-3A with a 38-37 win over Senatobia.
Byhalia also graduated its quarterback who had 4,000 yards last season and the wide receiver.
“North Panola was the only team who was able to control the ball against them last year,” Davis said. “They played people both ways and we wore them down. Let’s hope we can do the same this year.”
On defense, Byhalia will come with a four-man front and blitz a lot, according to Davis.
“They are a little bigger than last year,” he said. “We just won’t know where they will come from. I hope we can have a successful homecoming.”
Washington described his team as being in a “rebuilding phase.”
“Last year they had a lot of superstars,” Washington said. “This year I have a lot of guys who are excited about football and eager to play.”
His tightend is 6’6 1/2”, 266 pounds, a senior first-year player.
“If he gets in the secondary, he will destroy them,” Washington said. “He is fast.”
Washington said the team adjusts to what the defense gives them.
“There were guys who did good the first two games and others who did good the last two games,” he said.
About Lewisburg, Washington said they were a big, senior-laden club.
“I scouted them and kind of knew what to expect,” Washington said, “but they were huge.”
North Panola will play Lewisburg next Friday.
North Panola will be celebrating homecoming with a remember 70’s theme.