Sports / Outdoors – 12/7/2004

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Panolian Sports Headlines: December 7, 2004

For complete stories,
pick up the 12/7/04  issue of The Panolian



The Tigers gather around the gold state championship trophy along with
coaches, managers, principal, statisticians and superintendent.

Tigers win back-to-back state championships
South Panola head football coach Ricky Woods holds the 5A State Championship trophy high Friday night after South Panola defeated Ocean Springs 39-21.

By Myra Bean
Sports Editor

JACKSON – "Everybody doubted us," said South Panola defensive tackle John Jerry, after the Tigers won their second straight 5A State Title Friday night. "We just came out, did what we had to do."

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In an unprecedented move, the No. 8 nationally ranked Tigers finished back-to-back 15-0 seasons which culminated with back-to-back state championships.

The Tigers downed the Ocean Springs Greyhounds 39-21 Friday, Dec. 3.

This championship means much more to the team than just another ho-hum gold ball. After losing 18 starters from the 2003 championship team, there was doubt the team would be back in Jackson this year.

"It’s really a tribute to the kids and the coaches because nobody except Batesville believed we would be back down here," said South Panola principal Dr. Del Phillips. "People wouldn’t tell you that but really deep down they didn’t believe it, especially to go 15-0. I kept hearing at the first of the season 10-2, 9-3, you’re going to lose some.

"The kids when they had to step up, stepped up," Philllips continued. "That’s what people that hold that gold ball do."

The team leader, Derek Pegues, was "unbridled" by head coach Ricky Woods Friday night. Woods told Pegues he was taking the bridle off.

Pegues rushed for 244 yards and five touchdowns on runs of 32, 26, 69, 49 and 17 yards. Pegues broke a previously held record of four touchdowns set back in the 1993 5A championship by Warren Central’s Brian Darden.

South Panola took a precarious 13-7 lead into halftime. Ocean Springs scored with 4:19 left in the first half. The Greyhound defense left the Tiger offense shaking its head as halftime neared. The last part of the Tiger possession before halftime, Pegues threw two incomplete passes and was sacked.

The Tigers’ first touchdown was prefaced with an interception by linebacker Marcus Johnson, his second of the season, with 9:02 left on the first quarter clock. Johnson returned the ball to the Greyhound 33 yard line.

Three plays later Pegues scored on the 32 yard run with 7:46 left. Pegues faked the handoff, broke to the left and headed down the field for a touchdown. Russ Belk’s point after touchdown (PAT) gave the Tigers the 7-0 lead.

The Tiger defense had all its ducks in a row as the reverse plays of the Greyhounds fell flat as Johnson, Cedric Wright, Santarious Armstead, Jerry, Leroy Diggs and the rest of the defense stopped them in their tracks.

In the second quarter, Pegues’ 26 yard run came with 10:50 on the clock.

The Tiger defense forced the Grey-hounds to turn the ball over on downs when they could not convert a fourth down and one. The Tigers took over on the Grey-hound 36 yard line. In four plays, Pegues scored. The PAT failed.

In the second half of the game, the Tigers came out, made a statement and the Grey-hounds had to take notice.

"We had to step it up in the second half because they whipped us the last play going into half time on defense and all. We knew we had to come and play harder. If we didn’t, we would be walking off the field crying right now," Pegues said.

"They were a very good team," Pegues continued. "They were good on offense and defense. We just came out fired up and ready to play."

Jerry summed up the Greyhound offense.

"They just had a few little lucky plays but we held them down. Like Coach [Willis] Wright said earlier in the week, they’re too good of a team not to make some big plays. They wouldn’t be here if they didn’t make big plays, they ain’t going to get that bling-bling," Jerry said with a big smile.

Pegues was determined to show who was boss of 5A football in the second half. With just seven seconds ticked off the clock, he took the first snap of the opening possession 69 yards for the touchdown. The closest defender was 10-yards behind him. Thus, "Smoke" so fits Pegues as his nickname.

These breakthroughs for Pegues in his remaining touchdowns and the 36-yard run by Jeramie Griffin which got the ball to the two yard line which led to Germichael Sanford’s two-yard touchdown with 2:00 left in the game are due mostly to the unsung heroes of the game, the offensive line.

The ‘hosses’, as they are so fondly known, caused cracks and holes that the Tiger backs could use to make the big runs.

Towards the end of the game, Woods substituted the starters for the backup team and Pegues traded his helmet for a hard hat.

He said, "It means we were hard at work."

Woods said, "It was just another great effort. This team has played well together all year. The kids played a fantastic ballgame."

South Panola had one turnover and caused two turnovers.

"So we run a one turnover margin," Woods said. "We told them we couldn’t turn the ball over, had to play aggressive and not give up the big play and we done all of it.

"So that’s a tribute to these kids, the schools, the teachers, administrators, coaches and the whole community because without a lot of support it’s not going to happen. We appreciate every fan in Batesville."

Woods said he does mostly paper work and it is the assistant coaches who get the players ready to play.

"I couldn’t do it without them. Those assistant coaches deserve all the credit, not me," Woods said.

Assistant coaches include Willis Wright, defensive coordinators; Trenell Edwards, Arnie Oakes, John Davis, Lucian King, Mark Weaver and Michael Fair.

King spoke of the defensive line.

"They have just done a great job," King said. "Coach Weaver does the ends and I do the tackles. They have just done a great job, everything I’ve asked them to. Tonight when they had to they stepped up and shut them down. I think that was a lot of change in the game when they stopped them down here, down deep when it was 21-7."

King said the defensive line brings a lot of excitement to the game.

"They are great to coach, do whatever you ask them to, and they work extra hard. They got their reward: back-to-back undefeated," he said.

Woods made his fifth straight appearance in the state championship. He made two in 2000 and 2001 with Ackerman and 2002, 2003 and 2004 with South Panola.

Some seniors had a few words to say about the season and the game.

Jeremy Williams said, "I feel good about it. That’s all I want to say. I hope I make it to the next level."

Santarious Armstead said this was not the best offense they had faced all season.

"They came out playing. We know we had to adjust to it. Shoot I know I had to because I am playing a big role in this thing and I had to play harder," Armstead said.

Brandon Burnett said the team had a great season.

"We came out to play hard every game," Burnett said. "We gave it all we had. It showed up in the end. We just came off 15-0 two years straight. Unbelievable feeling. No feeling like it in the world."

They finished the season 15-0 and have a 30 game win streak intact.

Woods and the Tigers are 44-1 since Woods took over the team for the 2002 season. The only blight is the 2002 state championship loss to Wayne County. Woods has also coached his 174th win.

SP cheeleaders win bid to national competition
South Panola High School cheerleaders competed on Saturday, December 4 in the United Cheerleading Association’s Northeast Mississippi Cheerleading Regional Competition at Tupelo High School.

The squad received a superior score along with placing first in their category. They also received a bid for the third consecutive year to compete in the UCA National Cheerleading Championships in Orlando, Fla., which will be held in February, 2005.

On December 11-12, all three competitive cheerleading squads from South Panola will be competing in The Athletic Cheer & Dance National Championship Series being held at the Tunica Arena in Tunica.

There will be over 2,000 competitors from 14 states competing in this event. On Saturday, December 11 Batesville Junior High will compete at 1 p.m., Pope Junior High will compete at 1:20 p.m., and South Panola High School will compete at 1:30 p.m.

On Sunday, December 12, the squads will compete in the reverse order of Saturday rankings with the junior high division beginning at 10 a.m. and the high school division beginning at 11 a.m.

ND represents in All-Star game
All-star players from North Delta for the North team include (l to r) Cody Hallmark, Brandon Ciaramitaro and Hal West.
Representing the Green Wave team was Bryan "B" Nickle (l) as a manager for the North. "B" was a manager for the the Green Wave football team this year. He shared the job with Luke Young (far, r), Cliff Young’s son from Magnolia Heights, and Rhett Hobart from Washington School.
North head coach Rick Johnston (r) talks with All-star player Cody Hallmark, both of North Delta.
By Angie Ledbetter
Contributing Writer

The 33rd MPSA All-Star game was played at Robinson-Hale Stadium at Mississippi College on Thursday, December 2, 2004 before an estimated crowd of 2,400. The South topped the North 12-7 in a hard fought game.

The South, which leads the series 18-15, benefited from a half-dozen turnovers by the North. The teams combined for just over 349 yards of total offense.

At the end of the first quarter, the South had a 6-0 lead.

At the half, the South had a 12-0 lead over the North. Neither team scored in the third quarter. The North scored with 14:40 left in the fourth quarter and the PAT was good. With 9:15 left on the clock, the North scored a game winning touchdown but it was called back due to a blocking in the back penalty. With only 2:27 left in the game, the South fumbled the ball on their own 38 yard line and there was some controversy with the referees over who had the ball. They gave the ball back to the South. That ended the game with the South winning 12-7 over the North.

The North Delta Green Wave were well represented by Hal West, Cody Hallmark, and Brandon Ciaramitaro. All three guys did a wonderful job in the game. Each one of them got a lot of playing time and showed their school spirit. Each one of them had several solo tackles in the game. Cody and Brandon were captains for the North also. All three guys said that they really enjoyed the game and the experience that they had during the week.

Also, representing the Green Wave team was "B" Nickle as a manager for the North. "B" was a manager for the the Green Wave football team this year. He shared the job with Luke Young, Cliff Young’s son from Magnolia Heights, and Rhett Hobart from Washington School.

Head football Green Wave Coach Rick Johnston shared the coaching job for the North this year. He shared it with Cliff Young from Magnolia Heights, John Holcomb from Lee Arkansas, and Todd Lott from Washington School.

The North was well represented by fans from all over the North of the state. The stands were full and their was standing room only on the sidelines. The Green Wave fans showed up to show their support and school spirit. Their were parents, teachers, students, friends, and even former students there to show their school spirit.

They were very loud and people knew that they were proud of their three players and coach that was there. Head Coach Rick Johnston was very proud of the support that the guys got from the Green Wave fans who made the trip to Clinton.


Official’s season ends;
     spring workout looms

I hope everyone was properly thankful for all their blessings this Thanksgiving. I promise I am thankful and a still just plain ole full. Ate way too much.

As much as I love this time of year it’s really a bittersweet time because the season has ended for me and now it’s spring work I have to look forward to.

It was a great season with 11 SEC assignments and 12 high school games. That can get tight working a high school game on Friday night and then, for example, being in Baton Rouge for an 11:34 kickoff at LSU.

That early start means the pre-game meeting rolls at 7 a.m. Not much time in between for sleep. The adrenaline is the key. But being a football official in the SEC qualifies us all as adrenaline junkies.

That’s how I can drive to Jackson, Nashville or Birmingham after a high school game without going to sleep. I am running on pure adrenaline when I do a game and it takes several hours to wear down afterward. If does start to wear off, all I have to do is think about the game ahead of me and it’s wide open again. I will admit that a large coffee is good, too.

Seeing Eli in his first regular season NFL start was interesting. I thought he did very well and they almost pulled it out. It is also fun seeing the numbers brother Peyton is putting up these days. Then his record-breaking six touchdown passes in one game. It will be fun to see what the two brothers do on their way to the NFL Hall of Fame.

The deadline for getting my votes in for the Conerly Award is almost here as I write this and by the time you read this, it will be a done deal.

We send in our three picks and then a run-off ballot is sent back to us later the same day where I then vote for one of the top three college football players in Mississippi. I’ve said here before that it’s not that easy of a selection since there is not one prominent name in front of all the others. It will be interesting to see how this comes out.

If I see that #@$% NBA fight again I will scream. I think the punishment is adequate and really should be tougher. I also think they have a lack of security around those NBA games.

I guess I’m just used to the security we have at SEC games, which is plentiful and very qualified. The brawl at Clemson was beyond bad too. Just goes to show how one act of stupidity can ruin something.

All those seniors on both teams now have to end their college career on that note. No bowl game not only hurts the seniors and team but it also hurts in the pocket book, too.

There is a lot money to be lost by both programs for some of the team acting like street punks. Since that is the last game for both, any underclassmen involved can also be suspended for the first game next season.

I hate it especially for Coach Holtz having to end his coaching career on that sour note. I never will forget his line in the coaches’ meeting before the first game this season.

He was telling us about their concerns and had a rule question too when he slipped in the statement with a completely straight face: "We’ll be dressing 58 players. The rest can dress themselves," without cracking a smile. I almost choked.

I hope you took the time to go to Jackson for the State Championship Games. There were several of our schools down there and it’s some of the greatest high school football in the country. Texas really has nothing on us. See you next week.