Sports / Outdoors – 10/29/2004

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

Panolian Sports Headlines: October 29, 2004

For complete stories,
pick up the 10/29/04  issue of The Panolian


NP Takes One on the Chin from Senatobia
South Panola defensive players Justin Harris (l) and Teddy Flowers (far, r) join together to take down this Southaven runner last Friday night. The Tigers will be on the road to Starkville for another district matchup at 7 p.m.
By Myra Bean
Sports Editor

BATESVILLE – Throw out the records. The South Panola tigers and the Starkville Yellowjackets will meet face-to-face.

The kicker is if South Panola wins this game they will win the 1-5A district championship.

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"It’s not going to be a game. It’s going to be a war. That’s what you play for," said Tiger head coach Ricky Woods.

The nationally ranked No. 13 USA Today Tigers (9-0 overall, 5-0 district) will travel to enemy territory tonight to take on the fighting Yellowjackets (4-4 overall, 2-3 district).

The Tigers, going for a history making 25-game win streak, have already clinched a playoff berth, so that’s one hurdle leaped.

The talk between these two teams is erasing the two-hour drive and 105 miles that separate the two schools.

The Tigers have national reasons to do a little talking. They still top the Associated Press Polls where they have been all season. They are listed on the USA Today poll at 13,   national poll up to 18 and on the Tony National Poll at 19. The Tigers have outscored their opponents 388 to 83, the most points in 5A and 4A statewide, and the fourth most points in all regions statewide.

South Panola head coach Ricky Woods is highly complimentary of the team’s efforts over the past nine weeks.

Woods said the team is almost hitting on all cylinders. The team has been plagued with some injuries.

Tightend Justin Davis has been out for three weeks and Woods did not know if he will get to play tonight.

"He is still questionable," Woods said.

"We are playing really, really well," he added. "I thought overall the Southaven game was our best game of the year. We were really pleased with the kids’ performance, all of them. We didn’t have a bad game."

At this point of the season, Woods said the team is having fun.

"The kids are enjoying it. We are practicing hard. That’s what you need to be doing this time of year. It gets to being a long year if you don’t. I think we are where we need to be. I think we are as good as we can be at this point," Woods said.

The game is most likely to be in more warm weather with some rain in the forecast.

Woods said he sort of likes this warm weather.
"I don’t like it real hot but I don’t like it real cold either. It’s about right for me. I don’t know how the kids feel about it. They are adapting well. Everything’s going really, really well for us," he said.

Woods also commented on the positive attitudes of the team.

"The attitudes are straight and are real important. We have some good leaders on our team. We have some good young kids who have really stepped up for us. That’s real positive. Our older kids are playing hard and leading by example," Woods added.

Starkville, under returning first year head coach Bill Lee, is struggling through some conference games.

They did however give the Associated Press No. 6 ranked Olive Branch a tough row to hoe last week in the 7-3 loss.

The Yellowjackets know how to win as their seven trips to the state championship round proves. Of those seven games, they have four champion rings to show for their efforts. The last visit to the state championship was in 2001 where they shut out Moss Point 34-0.

This year the Yellowjackets’ trip to the playoff round is in jeopardy. The Yellowjackets know they are in a win/lose situation if they cannot pull out a victory over the Tigers tonight and Columbus next Friday.

There is a three way tie for fourth place in the district right now. Starkville, Columbus nad Tupelo each have a 2-3 district records and need the final two wins to claim that fourth spot.

South Panola is in first, followed by Olive Branch with one district loss and West Point with two district losses.

The playoff picture should become clearer after tonight’s games but some spots will hinge on next week’s games.

Night Games Remain the Best

A night game is always the best to me. I guess growing up and going to high school games with my parents when I was barely in first grade started it. High school games used to start at 8:00 PM back then. Now, don’t get me wrong because a 2:30 PM CBS game will get the ole heart rate way up too. The night just adds to the mystique of a game and especially so for a SEC game.

The Tennessee at Ole Miss game was a great one for TV on ESPN2. They told me the ratings skyrocketed after halftime due to the score and 3rd quarter play. We call that one the "Night Cap" game with it’s kickoff around 8:00 PM. Those start times are always flexible since it trails a game that started at 5 p.m. (Central Time).

We typically start the game before the first one is over and then we are joined in progress. I ended up having to reset the stadium clock twice before the game started – once due to no one starting it when they should and then when ESPN2 decided to back up the kickoff five more minutes. They have that much flex in their deal with the SEC.

The stadium clock is supposed to start exactly sixty-minutes before kickoff and when it didn’t I had to find the game administrator and see why not. Someone dropped the ball, as it were, so I got on the sideline phone to the pressbox clock operator and to get it reset to the right time.

Then at eight minutes before the original kickoff time, TV said they need to back up five minutes from 8:05 to 8:10 to let the Purdue-Wisconsin game get closer to it’s conclusion. That meant a hurried notification first to the Referee and then to both coaches followed by getting the clock reset once again. Everything from the changing of the boundaries on the field for team warm-ups to when the captains walk out goes by the stadium clock not to mention the timing of the warm-ups and the pre-game activities. Never know what’s going to happen next. It’s always something new.

I will be in the Auburn @ Ole Miss game on the 30th on ESPN. Another night game which is great. In their effort to get the better camera views, ESPN has added the "SkyCam"(tm) which has been in use for a few years in the NFL. These "flying" cameras work directly over the field and were just allowed this season in NCAA rules. ESPN was the first network to spend the big cash to get one. My first game with one of those went well but it always looked like we had a UFO buzzing around over the field. This flying camera is attached to four cables that hang from each end of the pressbox with the other two on the other side at the top of the stadium structure. Each cable is attached to a motor driven winch and a computer controls all four. The operator has a joystick to fly the camera with another operator who controls the camera itself.

The operators have to keep the camera behind the offense to prevent a passed or kicked ball from hitting it, which has already happened in one of our games. The control computer had gone down and the cameral was over the defense and couldn’t be moved when a punt hit it. The procedure is to blow the play dead and replay the down which is not something we like to do. So if they have this going at Ole Miss you’ll see some interesting views not usually seen in college football. If you’re at the game then you’ll see what I mean about the "UFO".

I had an honor bestowed on me back at the first of the season I haven’t mentioned here. I became one of sixty writers in the state who vote on the Conerly Award. The Conerly Award has been given annually since 1996 to the top college (four-year) football player in the State of Mississippi. It is not a requirement to go to a quarterback in spite of its namesake either. A linebacker from Southern won it year before last. You probably remember that Eli Manning won it twice ? once as a sophomore and then last year as a senior. But I will say there aren’t any Eli’s around this year. There are some really great players in our state this season but there sure isn’t any one real "standout". They always have a big name present the award too. Frank Gifford, Jack Kemp, Tom Landry and Bart Starr are past presenters of the award at the annual dinner. So I’ve got my notes going from the papers and online sources too. The first ballots are already out and due back with three nominees by the end of November. More voting to worry about in November.

Northwest should be playing at home on Saturday, November 6th for the State so get out to Bobby Franklin Field at 2:00 PM and make a ton of noise for our Rangers. Let’s make it huge for them. See you next week.


Green Wave Goes for History-Making Undefeated Regular Season
By Angie Ledbetter
Contributing Writer

The North Delta Green Wave, (10-0,5-0) will travel to Holly Springs tonight to take on the Marshall Academy Patriots,(4-7,2-3) for the last regular season game and the last district game of the season.

The Green Wave have had a record breaking season up to this point with a 10-0 season and they have high hopes of continuing that record to finish with a 11-0 undefeated season which has never been done at North Delta. The players, coaches, and fans are very optimistic about their ending season record.

The Green Wave clinched the 2004 MPSA AA District 1 title last week by defeating Bayou Academy. They also clinched a first round playoff spot to be played at home next Friday night. It will be decided tonight who the Green Wave will host in the first round of the playoffs. It will be the runner up in District 2. Lee Academy clinched a playoff spot also after defeating Indianola last week and they will travel to play the winner of District 2.

Marshall Academy is in fifth place in the district. They have defeated Bayou and Carroll in the district. They have lost to Kirk, Indianola, and Lee Academy. In 2002, Marshall won the district by the point system and later, the Green Wave defeated them for the North Half Championship.

Head Coach Rick Johnston said that the game with Marshall is always a physical game. "They are always a very physical football team," said Johnston. "North Delta and Marshall games are always physical and I expect another real good physical football game tonight."

"Marshall is in a rebuilding year," said Johnston. "They have a new coach, Wade Griffin, and he is doing a great job. It is just taking a little while for everybody to get used to everybody. I will tell you, they are playing well."

"Again, it seems like every week here, the team that we play, we have got to contend with a real good athlete at quarterback, and this week is no different," said Johnston. "Thomas Carlisle, the quarterback, is an excellent player. He plays well."

"Boyce Hollingsworth, runningback/linebacker, is just a player," said Johnston. "We are going to have to take care of both of those runningbacks. They run the football hard. We are going to have to play a real good game if we are going to get done what we are going to get done, of course to get a win. Regardless of what the records are between these two teams, it is always a real physical game."

Carlisle, the quarterback, is a senior that is 6’5 and weighs 186. Boyce Hollingsworth, runningback/linebacker, is a senior that is 6’0 and weighs 209. Marshall has a roster of 7 seniors, 11 juniors, and 6 sophomores.

Johnston said that his team has got to bring their ?A’ game tonight to be successful. "It is another conference game," said Johnston. "It is the last game of the season and you definitely want to end it with a win, hopefully to get some momentum going into the playoffs. It is a big game. Hopefully, we can do what it takes to come out on top."

The pep rally will be at 2:30 for the players in the school gym. The pregame show will be at 7:00 p.m. with Head Coach Rick Johnston and Mickey Aldridge. Kickoff for the game will be at 7:30 p.m.

Prize Fight moves to Fitzgerald Casino for Brawl in the Fall
By Myra Bean
Sports Editor

Prize Fight and Fitzgerald Casino announce "Brawl in the Fall," an eight bout professional boxing card to be held Sat., Nov. 6. The card will feature two highly touted and hard-hitting light heavyweights in the six-round feature bout for the Mid-South Light Heavyweight Championship.

This bout will consist of undefeated top prospect and Batesville native John Johnson 6-0 (5 KOs) against Bo Skipper 12-2 (7 KOs) from Meridian.

Over the past six months, Johnson has taken the mid-south by storm as he has been featured numerous times in the Commercial Appeal along with making several appearances on television and radio stations. In John’s last fight, he was featured on the undercard of the Roy Jones Jr. fight held at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn. Conversely, Skipper is an experienced fighter who possesses a thunderous right hand and has knocked out seven of his opponents.

"John Johnson has never seen anybody like me before," Skipper said. "I’m no joke. I have too much power and I’ll knock him out in three rounds."

Prize Fight’s Brian Young said, "This is going to be an all-out war between John Johnson and Bo Skipper."

The main event of the evening will feature the world’s best pound-for-pound female fighter, Ann Wolfe (17-1, 12 KOs) of Austin, Texas. Wolfe is a four-time world champion and current IBA Light Heavyweight Champion. Top challenger Cassandra Geiger 6-3, (6 KOs) of Fayetteville, Ark., has earned her opportunity to fight Wolfe with her ferocious punching power as evidenced by all her wins coming by way of knockout.

The undercard will consist of No. 1 world ranked contender Cristy Nickel 5-1 (4 KOs) of Southaven, as well as fellow female fighter Samantha Browning 3-0 (2 KOs) from Tupelo.

Corrected information from Tuesday for Cristy Nickel. She is 5-1 (4 KO’s). She fought last Saturday night in an unanimous decision bout over Cassandra Lindsay (score 116-112) at the Isle of Capri Casino in Lula.

This fight has been selected to be televised on UPN 30 Saturday night Oct. 30 at 9 p.m. Frank, a producer from UPN30, said that it was one of the best fights he has ever filmed and people are talking about it due to the fact that it was an all-out bloody war.

"It may seem like a small thing, but when a fighter goes through the blood, sweat and tears and wins a battle like I did, it means everything to get the credit," Nickel said.

Also included on the undercard are 2004 Olympic Trial Finalists Anthony Peterson, LaMont Peterson, Rayonta Whitfield and heavyweight sensation Charles Ellis.

In addition, USBA Regional Champion, Antonio Davis 13-1 (6 KOs) of Atlanta, Ga., will be in a scheduled six-round bout.

Doors will open at 7 p.m. with the first fight scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Ringside seats are priced at $30 with reserved seats being $25. Tickets can be purchased by calling Prize Fight at (662) 349-6263 or the Fitzgerald’s Casino gift shop at (800) 766-5825 or (662) 363-5825.