Sports / Outdoors – 10/1/2004

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 1, 2004

Panolian Sports Headlines: October 1, 2004

For complete stories,
pick up the 10/1/04  issue of The Panolian

LSU/Auburn Game Made Adrenaline Flow

Every week I witness something positively amazing at one of our SEC venues or stadiums.
Besides one of the hardest hitting games I can remember, LSU at Auburn was one of the most intense I’ve had the pleasure to be involved with in a long while. With the adrenaline pumps wide open and a record-breaking crowd of 87,951 packed into Jordan Hare Stadium at about twelve minutes before kickoff, they released their beautiful Bald Eagle, War Eagle VI, from the top of the stadium.

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He made a couple of circles around the field and landed at mid-field where he then jumped up onto his handler’s gloved arm for a handful of diced rabbit and chicken treats. He was bigger than most wild turkeys you would see and I had chills just seeing a real Bald Eagle, our national symbol, flying loose like that.

Their Golden Eagle, War Eagle V, did the pre-game show the last time I was down there. Old "V" has been retired but he was there on the sidelines watching too.

In case you’re wondering or concerned, their eagles are part of the Veterinary School and have been brought back to health from an injury in the wild. And you better believe they live a royal lifestyle too.

It was a much closer game than the first two I’ve had so far this season and I found out the TV ratings were high too. This was the first game for CBS this season and it showed. You wouldn’t believe all the fussing and cussing I heard throughout the entire game for everything from a Director making moves on his own to equipment in the truck going down. The Producer from the game even called me this week to apologize for what he called a real bad stress situation during the entire game. They had a director who was relatively new at the job and it showed – to them. When I got home and watched the recording I didn’t think it looked too bad in spite of the few color-bar shots or black screens that got out. I could hear the people in New York raising sam throughout the whole thing. Thank goodness it wasn’t at me.

A lot of TV and print media have been on our case about some calls from the weekend and I’m sure you’ve read and seen all about them so I won’t, and really can’t, get into too much detail about them. What I can say is, being one myself, I can attest first hand to the highest level of dedication, attention to the finest details and overall genuine love of the game of football that is found nowhere else but in the Southeastern Conference. Last season, the SEC broke, most of them their own by the way, records for attendance and TV audience. We had an average stadium site attendance of over seventy-nine thousand per game in all of the SEC.

And the TV revenues set a record of over $100 million that was divided among the 12 schools. And along with that, the best officials in the world can be found down here too. No other conference has their officials do the physical conditioning that we do.

Most, including the NFL, only have to do a timed pace walk and have their heart checked during the walk. We have to run a mile and a half within time limits from a standard scale used to measure if you are in shape to work.

There are several levels of the scale and we are required to run in the above average times. And when you get to be in your late 40’s that ain’t an easy thing to do. We take several written tests every year and these again require serious study to score well and improve not only your rating level regarding post-season selection but also your dedication to get as close to perfect when working a game. Perfect positioning and how to apply the rules to the game cannot be learned on a casual basis. We all make mistakes and I can attest that no one, and I mean no one, hurts as much as the official does when it happens. Look at what’s involved in a typical game.

Forget you’ve got 11 players on each team trying to outsmart, outplay and out-hit each other with a different combination on each play. Most of our games will be anywhere from one hundred and fifty to one hundred and seventy plays over an average time span of three hours and ten minutes. We do not get to substitute during a game like the players do and it is very tough to maintain the required level of focus from the opening kickoff to the final play. Very, very rarely does an error happen but they do happen and some will seem worse than others. To us, any error is bad and we try to learn from our mistakes with the attitude that we will be better next time. Kind of like the Phoenix rising, so do we. Just like that beautiful Bald Eagle flying down on the Plains of Auburn. See you next week.


Tigers Break into National Polls
By Myra Bean
Sports Editor
BATESVILLE – A showdown of showdowns is on tap tonight in Olive Branch.

A battle of the undefeated will take place on the gridiron of the Conquistadors between Olive Branch and the South Panola Tigers.

After five weeks, the South Panola Tigers finally broke into the USA Today Super 25 poll at the No. 21 spot.

South Panola still ranks as the top team in Mississippi in the Associated Press Poll and the Clarion-Ledger Super 10 Poll.

South Panola was rewarded for a milestone victory with a unanimous selection as the top team in the Mississippi Associated Press Top 20 high school football poll Monday.

South Panola (5-0 overall, 1-0 district), which beat Horn Lake 45-6 for its 20th straight victory last week, was chosen first by each of the 17 statewide media members who voted in the poll.

This week the Tigers broke into the Tony Poll at No. 22, a national poll in its seventh year, (third longest) in producing a weekly national High School Football Poll (USA today holds the most years producing a poll).

The Tony Poll can be accessed by logging on to .

ranks South Panola in its national poll at No. 25.

Olive Branch (5-0 overall, 1-0 district), ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press poll, has put up some good numbers this year. One of the weapons of Olive Branch is the foot of Ryan Hoorman. Hoorman is the leading kicker in the state with 41 points to his credit this year.

Last year, Olive Branch was the first team to hold South Panola under 40 points in the regular season. Starkville was the only other team to hold the Tigers’ offense to low points.

Olive Branch has a lot to brag about itself.

The Quistors have out-scored their foes 219-29, averaging more than 43 points per game while yielding just more than five points per outing.

Last week Olive Branch and Southaven took each other on in a district, inner-county shootout and the Quistors emerged the 36-18 victors.

South Panola assistant coach Mark Weaver said the team is ready for this week’s game because the Tigers have prepared hard all week.

"Olive Branch has a real good team. The kids are looking foward to the game. It will be a good Friday night," Weaver said.

South Panola head coach Ricky Woods said the excitement surrounding the game this week is to be expected with these two teams of similar caliber.

"We are both undefeated and somebody’s going to get beat," Woods said.

Olive Branch was young last year and those players came back this year a little older.

The Quistors bring a lot more skilled people to the gridiron this year.

"They have great skilled people," Woods said. "They will spread us out and throw the ball. They are really talented."

Woods does not expect to change a lot of what has worked for the Tigers this year. Woods has a game plan the team works from each week for the offense and defense.

"We stay within the framework of what we are doing," Woods said.

Around the state this game has been dubbed the game of the week.

The Clarion-Ledger even asked the question of whether Olive Branch is for real.

The question, "Can Olive Branch QB Anthony Summers (27-57-622 yards, 10 TDs) and gifted WRs Markeith Summers (14-438, 5 TDs) and Allen Walker (10-186, 5 TDs) deliver decisive big plays against South Panola’s Dandy Dozen duo of QB/CB Derek Pegues (690 total yards, 8 TDs) and WR/FS Travis Sanford (5 int’s)?"

Missing from action this week are Quistor DL Victor Thomas (sprained ankle) and Tiger MLB Chris Strong (torn ACL).

Directions: Take I-55 N to Exit 289, Goodman Road, Horn Lake. Take right onto Goodman Road and keep going to get to Olive Branch about 10 miles. Get on 78 Bypass and go to 2nd Exit, Hwy 304. Take left and go to light. Take right, follow directions to school.

Green Wave to Face Tough Kirk
By Angie Ledbetter
Contributing Writer
The North Delta Green Wave (6-0 overall, 2-0 district) will take its game on the road when they visit Kirk Academy tonight.

This marks the third divisional game for the Green Wave, after they gave Carroll Academy a 46-7 whipping on September 10. The Green Wave are 2-0 in district play and they are ranked No. 3 in the Academy AA poll in the Clarion-Ledger.

The Green Wave are rallying behind leading scorer Dustin Maples, who scored three touchdowns against Winston Academy last week. Maples has scored 12 touchdowns so far this season, including 10 rushing. He has been a top performer in the Clarion-Ledger.

The Kirk Academy Raiders are 4-2 overall, 2-1 district. Kirk suffered its first divisional loss to Indianola Academy on September 3. Kirk is coming off of a big win from last week by defeating Bayou Academy 41-18. In that game, Raiders kicker Brian Logan kicked two 37-yard field goals and he was good for seven out of seven on PATS.

Head Coach Rick Johnston said that Kirk is a lot like his team was last year.

"They are real young and real talented," said Johnston. "They have a lot of young players on the team who are very good players. They are going to be aggressive. They play a down hill defense where they come at you just about every play. We are going to have to be ready for that, not allow any run through and get those people blocked at the point of attack."

Johnston said, "Offensively, Ryan Evans, the quarterback, is a play maker and he does a good job. They have also got a couple of young runningbacks who are running the football hard."

Kirk has Scott Martin as the new head coach this year.

"He has been the junior high coach for years down there," said Johnston. "We have been coaching against each other in the junior high ranks. He is a good friend of mine and he does a great job. I am sure that they will be well prepared and they will play really hard."

Kirk has come out on top for the last couple of years in this highly contested battle.

"Hopefully, it is our turn to get one," said Johnston. "It is a big district game, but all district games are big games and this one is no exception."

The pep rally will be at 2:30 in the gym. Tune in to FM 106.9 with the pregame show at 7 p.m. with Johnston and Mickey Aldridge. Listen to the play by play of the game starting at 7:30 with Kirk Willingham and Aldridge.

Directions to the school: From the North on I-55, take exit 206. At the top of the exit ramp, turn left onto Highway 8 and continue east to the fourth signal light at US Highway 51. Turn right (south) onto Highway 51 and go to the second signal and turn off to right onto Carrollton Road. (It runs parallel to Highway 51). The school is 1?4 mile on the right.

By Myra Bean
Sports Editor
SARDIS – Facing homecoming with a 1-3 overall, 1-0 district record, the North Panola Cougars hope to churn out a win tonight.

The Cougars will play host to the Tunica Rosa Fort Lions (3-2 overall, 1-1 district). The Lions will be hungry to appease a 51-14 last week loss to district super power Senatobia Warriors.
The district win came by a one point 16-15 win over Cleveland Sept. 17. Both teams are probably second-guessing themselves in that game. Cleveland led 9-0 at the half then let Tunica score two touchdowns in the third quarter. Cleveland scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but let Tunica claim a safety off them. Other mistakes included two missed 2-point conversions by Cleveland and one missed 2-point conversion by Tunica.

Though the Cougars are struggling, head coach Demetrius Hill is seeing some improvements in the team each week. He said his expectations of the team are still high.

"They are high because I think I have two of the most talented athletes in the state on the roster in Dexter Thomas and Tecory Walton," Hill said.

Hill did not reveal his game plan for tonight’s game but Thomas is expected to handle the ball more than he has in the past five games.

The use of Thomas handling the ball coupled with cutting down on mistakes, leads Hill to think the Cougars can pull out a win tonight.

"We have to eliminate mental mistakes and turnovers," Hill said. "We can compete with anybody if we do that. How we bounce back from our downs is what is most important."

Hill was complimentary of his younger players. He said they are putting forth a lot of effort, but it does fluctuate.

"They are trying real hard and are hungry for a win," Hill added.

Kickoff for the game is 7 p.m. The homecoming court, featuring new Homecoming Queen Marteena Taylor, will be presented at halftime.