Sports / Outdoors – 10/18/2005

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Panolian: SPORTS – October 18, 2005

  From the 10/18/05 issue of The Panolian     *REVISED*    


     South Panola’s homecoming court for this year includes: (front row) seniors Nicole Douglas, Erica Draper and Summer Gee; (second row) Charrel Parker and Candace Conner; (third row) juniors Tanika Chapman, Lakamaree Pride and Whitney Johnson; (fourth row) sophomores Sabrina Townsend, Nikki Dillon and Kayla Draper and (fifth row) freshmen Ashley Robison, Nikita Chapman and Vetorra Cole.
Tigers flex muscles and hold off Falcon charge
By Myra Bean

The South Panola Tigers had to flex some state championship muscle to hold off a third quarter charge by the upstart Columbus Falcons Friday night.

The Tigers (7-0 overall, 3-0 district) maintained their 37-game undefeated streak with a 48-25 win over Columbus, but not before the Falcons proved they deserved some effort from the Tigers.

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The No. 12 nationally ranked Tigers took a 14-3 lead into halftime. Even the crowd noticed the peppier step from both teams in the third quarter.

South Panola players and coaches denied using some of Michael Jordan’s Secret Stuff from the "Space Jam" movie in the field house during halftime. Columbus was not asked.

It was obvious the Falcons got some fresh enthusiasm as they entered the second half. Columbus scored after two fumbles by the Tigers in the third quarter and managed to pull within three points, 28-25, with 9:36 left in the game. After one kickoff, Columbus attempted an onside kick and it was successful. That onside kick at the Tiger 35 yard line, coupled with an interference penalty on the side of the Tigers, also led to a touchdown.

At this point, the crowd of about a scattered 2,500 fans let its presence be known for both teams. The South Panola crowd, led by the cheerleaders and the band, rallied the Tigers to cut down on the mistakes.

The Falcons geared up for another go at the goal line, but the Tigers flexed some muscle and scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to secure the district win.

For the Tigers, junior tailback Rickey Sanford and junior fullback Jeramie Griffin scored three touchdowns each. Senior quarterback Leroy Diggs was good for one touchdown run of one yard with 4:37 left in the game.

Kicker Barrett Johnson completed five of six extra points.

Griffin had 159 yards in touchdown runs alone in addition to his 226 yards and 12 carries. He scored on runs of 53, 80 and 26 yards.

Sanford had two touchdown runs of two yards each and one of 15 yards. Sanford had 124 yards on 19 carries for the evening.

Diggs also had over 100 yards rushing with 129 on 18 carries.

Sanford scored his first touchdown on the Tigers’ first possession with 7:09 on the first quarter clock. That score capped a nine-play, 71-yard drive that took 3:49 minutes. The Tigers took a 7-0 lead into the second quarter.

The Tigers had two players to suffer some injuries in the first quarter, but they returned to the lineup after a couple of plays. Griffin had the wind knocked out of him after a reception from Diggs. He was hit after he was out of bounds, but Columbus did not receive a penalty flag for that late hit.

A play or so later, senior center Josh Boren was poked in the eye.

On the second play of the second quarter, Sanford scored his second two-yard touchdown with 11:23 on the clock for a 14-0 lead.

That score was aided by a 20-yard reception by senior wide receiver Rodney Gray from Diggs to the 23 yard line.

On the next Tiger possession, the Tigers had a fourth down and inches and decided to punt.

With 5:16 left in the first half, Columbus scored on a 40-yard field goal. Columbus only completed two of six pass attempts thanks to the play of the Tiger secondary.

The Tigers had to punt their next possession away which set up another field goal, 39 yards, attempt by Columbus which failed.

South Panola fumbled its first possession of the third quarter away, but Columbus could not convert that fumble into a score.

The Tigers took no chances on the next possession and gave the ball to Griffin who scored his 53-yard run with 7:34 left on the third quarter clock for a 21-3 lead.

Then the Tigers fumbled with 5:15 left in the third and Columbus recovered and turned that into a 26-yard touchdown pass with 3:30 on the clock.

Griffin answered with his 80-yard touchdown on the first play after the kickoff with 3:13 left on the clock. With the PAT, the Tigers led 28-10.

The fumbles got to the Tigers on their next possession as Columbus recovered it with 15 seconds left in the third quarter. Columbus scored with 11:00 left in the fourth quarter on a 38-yard touchdown pass. With the PAT, Columbus cut the lead to 28-17.

On the ensuing kickoff, Columbus attempted the onside kick, which was successful, and South Panola was hit with a roughing the kicker penalty. With all of that, Columbus ended up with the ball on the Tiger 35.

The interference penalty gave the Falcons a first and goal from the nine yard line. Then Columbus scored on a nine-yard pass with 9:36 left in the game. With the two-point conversion, Columbus pulled with three points, 28-25.

The Tigers refocused.

With 7:05 left in the game, Griffin scored his 26-yard touchdown run. The hold was bumbled on the extra point and the kick failed. The Tigers’ lead was 36-25.

Columbus was fourth down and two from their own 27 yard line and tried a fake punt for the first down. The play failed and the Tigers took over on the 27 with 5:31 left in the game.

On a second effort to get past the Falcon defense, Diggs was able to get into the endzone with a leap over the top of the pile and around the left side with 4:37 left in the game.

With the PAT, the Tigers led 41-25.

Sanford scored the last touchdown on a 15-yard run with 2:03 left in the game. Sanford had brought the ball from the Tiger 41 to the Falcon 15 to set up the touchdown.

The Tigers had 480 yards on the ground and 97 passing for a total offense of 577 yards. They were penalized six times for 65 yards.

Columbus was held to 30 rushing yards, but had 204 yards through the air for a total offense of 234 yards. Columbus was penalized four times for 20 yards.

South Panola will celebrate homecoming Friday night by hosting Tupelo. The theme is "Pirate of South Panola… Curse of the Tigers." Students will observe special dress-up days each day.
Kickoff is 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 and the ticket booth opens at 6 p.m.

Cougars rout Byhalia 34-8
By Donna Taylor

It was a good night for the North Panola Cougars as they clawed for a win against the Byhalia Indians. The score was 34-8. Byhalia hasn’t won a game all season.

The team appeared to ready, willing and able to earn a "w" on Friday night in the Cougars’ den.

Their offense gave a tremendous showing and their running and passing game was fired up. Last week, they didn’t seem as alive as they were in this game.

Bruce Wilbourn, 5’5" and weighing in at 174 pounds, intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown just as the horn sounded to end the third quarter. He caught only one pass in the game for 23 yards.

"Play Hard" Denard Presley ran for 103 yards and caught three passes for 36 yards, a big improvement over last week’s game.

Roderick Jefferson, linebacker/wide receiver, rushed for 49 yards on 16 carries.

Senior Larry Burdette scored two touchdowns in the game and his ground game has picked up. He finished the night with 87 yards on 15 carries.

Others who made an impact in the Friday game were Jarvis Taylor, who had one reception for five yards, and Joshua Armstrong, who rushed for ten yards on one carry.

Perry Trammell was 6 of 13 with one interception and a rushing touchdown.

The Cougars will be open on Friday, October 21 but return to action in Water Valley October 28.

Local Heisman nominees announced
     Selected as Wendy’s High School Heisman nominees from North Delta are Dustin Maples and Casey Whitworth.
     Selected as Wendy’s High School Heisman nominees from South Panola are Josh Boren and Anna Newcomb.
Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas supported the ongoing commitment to the advancement, development, and support of young people. He encouraged their aspirations to improve themselves and their communities. With this in mind, Dave created an award that recognizes today’s top scholars, athletes, and citizens among America’s high school students.

For eight generations, the Heisman name has signified excellence, determination, and prestige among college football’s elite. In 1994, a second level of outstanding achievers ensconced their names into Heisman lore when the Wendy’s High School Heisman (WHSH) program was created.

The WHSH program has set the standard for high school student-citizen-athletes, and gained tremendous prestige in its own right. Each fall, the program recognizes the nation’s most esteemed high school senior men and women for excellence in academics, community service, and athletics.

To date more than 125,000 high school nominated students have been touched by the Heisman mystique. Of them, 133 have progressed to the National Finalist level, with 22 earning the designation of Wendy’s High School Heisman National Award Winners. Each year, two new students officially join the prestigious Heisman family.

From Panola County are Josh Boren and Anna Newcomb of South Panola and Dustin Maples and Casey Whitworth of North Delta.

Boren is the center for the South Panola football team and first baseman for the baseball team.

In football he was named the 1-5A first team center, first team All-State offensive lineman by the Mississippi Association of Coaches and second team All-State offensive lineman by the Clarion Ledger.

In baseball, he received the best offensive player award. He made a 24 on his ACT and has a GPA of 3.80. He is a member of the national Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta. He is very active in the community, ranging from a volunteer for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts to working with the Trailblazers baseball league. He also helped start the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at South Panola.

He has not decided where he will attend college and what he will study. He is the son of Randy and Carol Boren of Batesville.

At South Panola, Newcomb just finished her fourth season as a member of the volleyball team and is the football team mascot.

Newcomb is a member of the South Panola Student council, National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, Technology Students of American and Junior Civitan. She plans to attend Mississippi State University and to major in biological engineering.

She is the daughter of Drs. Harold and Lisa Newcomb of Batesville.

Maples is the leading rusher for the North Delta football team. He was named Most Valuable Player twice for the team. He was the most improved baseball player. He was named All-District in both football and baseball. He was named to the All-Conference first team in football and baseball.

He has a 3.2 grade point average and is a member of the National Honor Society. He made a 23 on his ACT. He is the son of Tony and Julie Maples of Batesville.

Whitworth plays softball, basketball, swims and runs track for the Green Wave.

She has been captain of the basketball team and has lettered in both basketball and softball.

In track she was the district and north state championship. In basketball she was the MVP and received the scholastic award. In softball she got the best hitter award.

She is very active in the community and has recorded over 36 services hours and 120 volunteer hours with different organizations and events.

She is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, student council and was a class officer. She is a member of National Honor Society, school newspaper and the yearbook staff. She is in the Quill and Scroll, Future Business Leaders of America and the Key Club.

She made a 22 on her ACT and has at least a 3.9 grade point average. She is the daughter of Gary and Nikki Whitworth of Batesville.

Who is eligible?
Men and women entering their senior year of high school who have at least a "B" grade average and participate in at least one of the 32 sports officially sanctioned by the National Federation of State High Schools are eligible . Students are judged based on their academic achievements, community service involvement, and athletic accomplishments.

How are they nominated and what’s the timing?
Principals, guidance counselors, and coaches from every high school across the United States are asked to nominate one male and one female athlete who best exemplify the program criteria. Registration codes are distributed to schools in the spring, allowing nominees to fill out and submit their application online by October 3rd.

Sanctioned sports:
To be nominated for the Wendy’s High School Heisman Program, students must participate in at least one of the 32 sports officially sanctioned by the National Federation of State High Schools.

ND basketball girls to play
The North Delta girls basketball team will kick off the preseason in the Delta Academy jamboree held today.

The Jr. High will play at 4:15 and 5:30 and the high school will play at 7:10 and 9:15 p.m.

Indianola shuts down Green Wave 35-7
     North Delta Jr. High’s Blane Joyner (right) ran around this Indianola defender last Thursday in the Green Wave loss. The junior high Green Waves will play their final game of the season Thursday against Bayou Academy at 6 and 7 p.m.
By Angie Ledbetter

The North Delta Green Wave had a long trip back from Indianola Friday night as they lost a pivotal district game to the Colonels 35-7.

The Green Wave are in third place in the district with two losses. The Indianola Colonels and the Lee Academy Colts are both undefeated as of last Friday night. Indianola and Lee will play each other this coming Friday night at Lee Academy.

"We just didn’t make plays," said Green Wave head coach Rick Johnston. "I thought we had a good game plan. We had people in the right spots."

According to Johnston, the offense kind of stalled.

"We got the ball inside their 10 yard line four times and didn’t get any points," he said. "Those things definitely hurt in a game like that. Just for whatever reason, we didn’t get it done."

The Green Wave started the game kicking off to the Colonels. With only a few minutes off of the clock, the Colonels scored when John Randle Wells took the ball 47 yards into the endzone for a touchdown and the PAT was good by Thomas Gresham to give the Colonels a quick 7-0 lead.

With 32.7 seconds left in the first quarter, Jacob Gurley caught a 35-yard pass from quarterback Forrest Wilbanks for a Green Wave touchdown and the PAT by Dakota Mabry was good to tie the game at the end of the first quarter 7-7.

That is all of the endzone the Green Wave would see.

The Colonels scored early in the second quarter with 11:49 on the clock on a 58-yard run and PAT.

With 11:11 on the clock, Gresham intercepted the Green Wave’s ball on the Green Wave’s 5 yard line. The Colonels scored on the very next play on a five-yard run and PAT for the Colonels’ 21-7 lead with 10:42 on the clock.

The Colonels had a 4th and 10 with the ball on the Green Wave’s 24 yard line and they went for a first down. With 5:31 on the clock, Patrick Ellis intercepted the Colonel’s ball and the Green Wave took over 1st and 10 on their own 22 yard line.

With 2:09 left in the second quarter, the Green Wave had a fourth down and two with the ball on the Colonel’s 13 yard line and they went for the first down. They came up short and the green Waves turned the ball over on downs. The Colonels had a 21-7 lead over the Green Wave at the half.

The Green Wave started the third quarter receiving the kickoff. With 10:02 on the clock, they had to punt the ball.

The Colonels had a first down and 10 on their own 30 yard line and they fumbled the ball. Green Wave Jacob Gurley recovered it with 8:44 on the clock.

The Green Wave took over 1st and 10 on their own 35 yard line. With 6:22 on the clock, the Colonels intercepted the Green Wave’s ball and they took over on their own 17 yard line.

With 1:50 left in the third quarter, the Colonels scored again on a five-yard run and PAT for a 28-7 lead over the Green Wave at the end of the third quarter.

The only score in the fourth quarter came with only 50.1 seconds left in the game when Ben Stallings took the ball one yard into the endzone. With the PAT the Colonels got a 35-7 district win.

As for the interceptions, Johnston said a lot of factors contributed to the turnovers.

"One time was definitely a pressure issue, but the other times he just made a bad decision and a bad read," Johnston said. " One of them was a break down with us protecting Forrest. We checked to a different pass route at the line of scrimmage and the lineman didn’t get the check and left someone unblocked.

"Then one time we had a receiver that didn’t look for the football when he was suppose to and allowed another interception," Johnston added. "Then another interception went off the receiver’s hand, went right through the receiver’s hands and kind of ricocheted to them. Those things happen."

Johnston stands behind the game plan that assistant coach Ronald McMinn came up with and said he had people in the right spots.

"Defensively in the first half they had two big plays and for the most part we shut them down except for those two big plays," Johnston said.

It is important the team put this game behind them, according to Johnston, and get ready to play the rest of the season. The Green Waves have two games left in the regular season.

Johnston told the team after the game to keep their heads up and that he was proud of them.

"You have been with me for a long time and I know that it hurts right now, but we are going to get through this," he said. "You know that if we win these last two games, for the past two years, we are going to be 20 – 4 and not many people can say that."

The Green Waves ended the game with 32 carries for 143 yards rushing and completed nine of 21 passes for 91 yards for a total offense of 234 yards. They had nine first downs and six penalties for 40 yards. North Delta threw six interceptions. The Green Waves had two fumbles but recovered both.

Maples ended the game with 13 carries for 95 yards. Wilbanks had 12 carries for 28 yards. Mabry had four carries for 12 yards and Ellis had two carries for six yards.

Receiving the ball was Jacob Gurley with one reception for 35 yards and one touchdown. Evan West had three receptions for 53 yards. Mabry had one reception for five yards and Chris Pike had one reception for two yards.

On the defense side of the ball was Gurley with 11 tackles and a fumble recovery and Nick Douglas with eight tackles. Heath Reed and Patrick Ellis had one quarterback sack each.

The Colonels ended the game with 45 carries for 306 yards and completed two of four passes for 22 yards for a total offense of 328 yards. They had 17 first downs and 10 penalties for 75 yards. They had two fumbles and lost one. They had one interception.

The Green Waves will be back on the road Friday for another district showdown with Bayou Academy in Cleveland. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

ND team deserves praise
By Angie Ledbetter

I am proud of you Green Wave Team!
I recently covered a game on a Friday night and I was really proud of most of the Green Wave fans who showed respect for the kids who were on that field that particular night.

I know as a parent that it takes a lot to swallow things when your kids are being done wrong. That night, our football players stood up, and showed how much of a better team that they were than the opposing team they were playing.

Our guys might have lost, but in the long run, they won. I know from experience, not as a football player though, that you don’t have to win to be a winner in your heart.

It takes a strong person to do what our guys did last Friday night on that field. Yes, they did lose, but not really. The score might have showed that they lost, but they won in our hearts and yours.

Sometimes it takes losing to become a winner down the road. I want to tell my football players that life is not always a winning moment, I promise them that. Yes, we all wanted them to win, especially me. I am your greatest fan, always, no matter if you win or lose.

I wanted to see you go undefeated in the district, but it was not your year. I know God always has a bigger plan and His plan was for our guys not to win this year. Not everyone looks at the bigger picture at times when they should, because it is sometimes too difficult to see.

I know that from the experience that I have gone through for the last four years. Life is tough and we should as a parent and a fan show our players that we are still there for them even if they lost last Friday night. Everyone is a winner in God’s eyes.

I know that our parents and fans were not done right by not being allowed on the field as a tradition to support the players as they ran through our sign. I promise you that was very tacky.

Our players have seen that support at every game and there is nothing wrong with that. It seemed a little bit one-sided when the opposing team got to have their fans on the field and their team ran through signs, fans, parents and even cheerleaders from the varsity and junior high teams. What was wrong with that picture? Well, let me tell you what was wrong. ALL OF IT!

There was another wrong done during the game.

It is natural when a player gets hurt during the game that a parent wants to come down on the sideline and check on their child. That is what parents are for and we love our kids. It is pretty tacky when you are told that you will be arrested if you come onto the field to check on your child.
Well, as everyone knows me as a parent, I would have got arrested for the first time in my entire life. If that had been my child, no police officer would have stopped me. It is different if you are going on the field to start trouble. I know that this particular parent would have never said a word.

What would the opposing team have done if one of their players had gotten hurt and one of their parents wanted to come on to the field? Would they have gotten arrested? Someone needs to ask them, when did they make their own rules for their football games?

On to my next case now. Well this is a very touchy subject with me as I tear up thinking about it.

As most of you know, the quarterback always seems to get the blame for losing a game. Well, since when did the quarterback play the game by himself?

And, as I know football like I do, the coach calls all of the plays in the game. This guy is not a college or a pro player. HE IS A KID!

He is someone’s child and grandchild also. As a handful of you parents start to point the finger at our quarterback, stop and think that could be your child there on that field playing his heart out and yes, making mistakes!

You as a parent make plenty of mistakes and will continue to. You are not a perfect parent. Your child is not perfect either!

I know that our quarterback’s father, mother and grandmother are on the sidelines every week and they support and love their child just like we all do. They know when their child makes a mistake on that field.

They don’t need you, the handful of parents, to let them know that their child isn’t perfect. I have respect for every player who gets on that field every Friday night and plays four quarters of a hard physical game.

At any given moment, we could lose that player who isn’t playing the perfect game that you want him to play.

Think back to a few weeks ago when the player from Water Valley got hurt and now he is in Atlanta at the Shepherd Center fighting for his life. He is fighting to regain some feeling in his body.

What if that was the player who you thought wasn’t playing the perfect game and the one who you thought lost the game for our team? Stop and think next time before you verbally put down that player on that field. It could be your son next time!
Next, I want to commend out coaching staff. Yes, they aren’t perfect either! Can anyone find me a coaching staff in any state that is perfect?

I will go cover one of their games on a Friday night. Most of the times, the coaching staff takes all blame for losing a game and I know that our head coach will take all of the blame for losing this past Friday night. If you don’t think so, just go ask him.

He has been in the coaching business a lot longer than most of the parents have been! Give him some credit win we lose and not just when we win!

Look at our record and see what he has done for our team just for the last couple of years. If we win these next two games, he will have a record of 20-4. Is that so bad?

I know of a lot of coaches that would love to have that record right now. Stop complaining and be proud of what our coaches and our team has done this year.

Remember that most of them were young this year. Everyone goes through that one year or another. We will be that STATE CHAMPIONSHIP WINNER AGAIN ONE DAY. You as a fan must believe and continue to support the team no matter what.

I look forward to seeing all of you on the sideline this Friday night and all of the future Friday nights with a supporting voice and hand!

May God continue to bless you and our team!

SEC ahead in Instant Replay
By William Correro

As we sail into week 8 of the regular season, it would seem that once again the SEC is ahead of everyone else. And I’m not talking about team rankings either.

We are receiving acclaim for our implementation of Instant Replay. I wasn’t for it at first, but after seeing it in operation and working just right for eight weeks, I guess I’m sold on it. Might as well be since it looks like it’s here to stay.

The SEC decided if we are going to do this we are going to do it right. My boss, Bobby Gaston, supervisor of football officials for the SEC, was instrumental in conceiving the majority of the key points we go by in every SEC game.

Our equipment is top level technology and is actually better than any other including what the NFL uses. It was expensive for the 12 schools but it is the best available. The Big 10 started last year using a Tivo digital recorder for the ability to rewind the TV feed and take a closer look at their replays and is still using it this season.

Tivo is a much slower process than we have, where we get the individual camera feeds from the TV truck tied into a dedicated server computer. This way the replay official actually checks each play without stopping the game.

If one comes along that needs to be examined closer, he can buzz the five officials with pagers and stop the game for a minimum of 45 seconds and a maximum of two minutes. We use TIVO for backup.

We are also doing something with replay that we call a "PR review." This happens when a close play comes along that is critical to the game.

What makes it different is the replay official may actually see that the call was made correctly on the field but will stop the game anyway to let the coaches, teams and fans know the "eye in the sky" is doing his job. Sort of calms the natives, as it were.

I don’t have an actual count so far, but we’ve averaged less than one stop and review per game and the majority ended with the correct call being made on the field.

We have not modified the way we work the games because of replay.

Instead we work the game as if it wasn’t there at all and if a close play happens and replay is needed, then everyone, including us, can know for certain we got it right overturn or not.

Mr. Gaston says every week that with replay, "we can all go to dinner after the game without worrying if the correct call was made."

Cuts down on heartburn and indigestion for sure. Our goal all along is to get it right without replay. And so far it’s all worked. See you next week.



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