Sports / Outdoors – 11/4/2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 4, 2005

The Panolian: SPORTS – November 4, 2005

  From the 11/4/05 issue of The Panolian     *REVISED*    


Region 1-5A title is on the line tonight at Tiger Stadium
By Myra Bean

There is nothing like the first loss of the season to make a team mad. Starkville is mad

Starkville will be in Batesville tonight to take on the No. 6 Tony Poll and No. 11 USA Today nationally ranked South Panola Tigers.

Starkville (7-1 overall, 4-1 district) is ranked No. 6 in the Clarion Ledger Super 10 Poll. They dropped from No. 3 after a 30-21 loss to Olive Branch last week.

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South Panola is coming off a 41-6 win over Southaven last week. The Chargers did not challenge the Tigers very much so Tiger head coach Ricky Woods was allowed to let his less experienced players get some valuable game experience through two and a half quarters.

This game tonight promises to be a challenge for the Tigers as they continually put their win streak on the line. The Tigers are up to a 39-game win streak and have won 53 of their last 54 games under Woods’ coaching direction.

South Panola can secure its fourth straight Region 1-5A title tonight with a win over Starkville. If Starkville wins, that will put the three teams, including Olive Branch, in a tie -breaker situation for first place in the district.

The Tigers have come a long way since spring practice and the first few days of fall practice. Doubts about whether the Tigers could weather this season with star running back Germichael Sanford sidelined due to a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and left lateral collateral ligament.

But hearing the call, senior Rickey Sanford did not hesitate to take the Tiger team on his back and do the job.

So far he has rushed for 1,037 yards and scored 17 touchdowns, along with junior fullback Jeramie Griffin who has rushed for 868 yards, caught the ball for 255 yards and scored 10 touchdowns.

Much of the first of the season jitters by senior quarterback Leroy Diggs has been forgotten as he has forged ahead to become a real leader on the team. He has amassed his own numbers by completing 38 of 67 passes for 641 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has rushed for 575 yards and scored six touchdowns.

His main receiver has been senior Rodney Gray with 285 yards and four touchdowns, including a punt return. Senior wide receiver Tristan Gleeton has 83 passing yards for the season.

The Tigers have amassed a total offense of 3,573 yards.

If any mistakes were made by the Tiger offense, there was the steadying influence of the Tiger defense to counteract.

The defense has held the Tiger opponents to 102 points through nine games. The Tigers have scored 306 points, including a punt return and an interception returned for a touchdown.

Some of the tackling and sack leaders for the Tigers include Chris Strong, Tarus Young, Justin Harris and Kevin Young.

Kerry Hoskins has four interceptions for the season, one returned for a touchdown. Montez Austin has three interceptions on the season.

Kickoff for the game is slated for 7 p.m. The ticket booth will open at 6 p.m. General admission is $5.

Cougar season comes to an end tonight
By Donna Taylor

Tonight is the final game of the season for the North Panola Cougars (3-5 overall, 2-3 district). They will not play any post season games this year.

The Cougars will host the Senatobia Warriors (7-2 overall, 5-0 district) for their final home game at 7 p.m. The Warriors will go into play off contention. Last year, the Warriors had a 6-0 district record and 14-1 regional. North Panola has not been as fortunate.

Senatobia two losses came at the hand of two high-powered non-conference teams in Mississippi, Charleston and Oxford.

In their first game of the season, the Cougars showed much promise against a highly ranked state team, the Booneville Blue Devils, with an impressive score of 30-25.

Even though they lost, many Cougar fans had high hopes for the team. The Cougars hit some rocky times during regular season play, but some still had dreams that things would get better. They didn’t.

The loyal fans still followed them, regardless of a some times unimpressionable outcome.

In last week’s game against the Water Valley Blue Devils, North Panola was shut out 41-0.

It appeared they couldn’t buy a score. The offense was inside the red zone four times, and came away scoreless without even a field goal attempt.

In their opener, they charged out like a team on a mission, even taking the lead for a few minutes, and giving life to a winning season. Since that game, there have been great wins, and terrible losses. One week they’ll win with authority and the next, lose with dignity.

Some players will have a good game this week and not show up the next.

That will not be acceptable, according to Cougar head coach Demetrius Hill.

"Senatobia will run the ball off tackle," Hill said. "So we have to stop the run game. We have to stay in our lanes and not give them a cut back lane. Senatobia is beatable."

Bruce Wilbourn was a bright spot for them. He made big plays in most of their games, but one player cannot carry the whole team. On the defensive side, Templeton Hardy was the break out player, making some daring tackles and quarteback sacks.

He and Earl Presley Jr. were busy young men every week. Even without defensive stats to look at, it was not hard to miss these two dominant defensive guys.

They seemed to love to make the tough hits and were not afraid to put their bodies in harm’s way. The duo never got much recognition stat-wise, but made their presence felt to the opposing teams.

As for the coaches, head coach Demetrius Hill, assistant coaches, Sean Norwood, Mose Holt, Theodric Watson and Brown Walker all seemed to give it their best shot. They truly cared about this young team.

Tickets are $5 at the gate.

SP Diamond Club to meet
The South Panola Diamond Club will meet Tuesday, November 8 at Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association at 7 p.m. All baseball/softball supporters and parents are invited to attend.
Regional cheer competition returns to SP
Competitive cheerleading squads from South Panola will host the Mississippi High School Activities Association’s North Regional Cheerleading Championships on Saturday, November 5.

This is the fourth consecutive year this event has been held at South Panola High School.

The doors will open at 8:30 Saturday morning.

Admission is $5 per person. This admission is good for all day.

Concessions will be available with all concession sales benefiting the South Panola competitive cheer squads. Junior high squads from north Mississippi will compete in the morning.

Pope Junior High is scheduled to compete at 10:15 a.m. Batesville Junior High will compete at 11:25 a.m. Junior High awards will start at 11:50 a.m.

Varsity squads from across north Mississippi will begin at 1 p.m. South Panola High School is scheduled to take the floor at 4:00. Varsity awards will begin at 4:10.

There are 58 squads registered to compete throughout the day.

     South Panola band flute players Brooke Keen (left) and Amanda Whitaker entertain during halftime festivities.
     North Delta cheerleaders performed their dance routine for the hometown crowd at last week’s game.
Polls differ on who’s best
By Myra Bean

Comparing the different polls the last few weeks has been kind of fun.

Last year the Tony Poll ranked South Panola way below the USA Today poll so I stopped paying attention to it. I figured the Tony Poll would do the same this year but I looked at it anyway.

Low and behold, they have been ranking South Panola higher than the USA Today for the last three weeks.

This week the Tony Poll ranked South Panola at No. 6 in the nation and No. 2 in the Southeast Region.

In the USA Today South Panola was at No. 11 and No. 7 in the South Region.

Not so bad, Tigers.
I didn’t say anything before but I do not think Southaven tried very hard to play the Tigers last week. I think they had it in their heads they were going to lose so why put out the effort.

That cold night made for a very long game even though that was one of the quickest games we have had.

Starkville has never and will never roll over and let South Panola have anything, so that’s why I am looking forward to the game tonight. I was sick earlier this week and not really thinking about it.

Wednesday, I told my daughter I was getting excited about the game.

Oh and keep an eye on the 4A race. There are some good to great teams duking it out. Close to us Oxford, Lafayette, Clarksdale and South Panola’s old nemesis West Point, are on the prowl to probably take on 4A guru Wayne County in the South.

Left out of playoffs
I have been having some conversations with people about the other two teams and why they did not make the playoffs this year.

Everyone wants to blame the coaching staffs for teams not making the playoffs. Like the leaders that they are, the coaches will take the blame.

One thing: every one of these head coaches and some of the assistants have experience of making it to the "big dance" as North Panola coach Demetrius Hill calls it. Hill played in the state championship on the Meridian team. He knows what sacrifices players and coaches have to make to get that far.

It is not an easy road.
It is not just the 11 weeks of the regular football season.

North Delta coach Rick Johnston has taken teams to the state championship game. He knows what it takes.

The coaches are not playing the games. Repeat: the coaches are not playing the games. The players are playing.

The coaches and their staffs set up workout, strength and conditioning guidelines to build athletic bodies that have to take 11 to 15 weeks of hard hitting to get to the state playoff games.

Johnston told me in a preseason interview that only eight players made all required summer workouts.

If the number of players who made all the workouts is less than 100%, why do you expect a perfect season? If you are not training your bodies and your minds for the upcoming season, why are you surprised you don’t get any further than the end of the regular season?

It’s not the coaches’ fault.
At North Panola, players wait to the first day of school to join the team and expect to start just because they think the team can’t function without them. After tonight’s game, every player who expects to be a part of next year’s team needs to be somewhere working out on Monday, building your bodies to take the grunt work required on the gridiron.

If you are mad you didn’t prolong your season, good. Go do something about it. Go get ready for next year.

Show up to ahead of time for spring practice. Show up before the coaches do for summer workouts. Be there for the beginning of fall practice. Get to the field houses the best way you can. Don’t let that be an excuse why you don’t show up for practice or workouts.

If this is really what you want, you will be there.

With the state championships each year as a goal, fans and schools alike require a lot from athletes in all sports not just football.

So before we go calling for the coaches’ heads on a platter, we may need to see how the athletes are treating and training their bodies.

Sometimes the coaches may make some game decisions that do not work out. Nobody’s perfect. But football, basketball, baseball/ softball and such are team sports. The whole team needs to sacrifice to meet its ultimate goal.

Pre-season basketball season underway
Special edition delayed
By Donna Taylor

There has been some basketball underway for some local teams.

The Panolian’s basketball special edition, Courtside 2005, will be published Tuesday, November 8. It was originally slated for today but due to staff illness and other technicalities, a delay has been unavoidable.

The North Delta varsity and junior varsity Lady Waves have been participating in the Magnolia Heights Pre-Season Shootout which is a round robin tournament this week.

They played Tuesday and Thursday and will conclude play on Saturday at 11:45 for junior high and 1 p.m. for the high school.

Regular season starts Tuesday in Marvell at 4 p.m.

North Delta will not play at home until November 28 when they host Lee, Ark.

The South Panola Lady Tigers will play in the Pontotoc Lady Warrior Classic tomorrow at noon. They will play one game against Alcorn Central.

Regular season for the Tiger and Lady Tiger teams begins Tuesday. The season opener will be played at home against Cleveland beginning at 5 p.m.

Batesville Jr. High opens the season at home Monday, November 7 against Southaven at 4:30 p.m.

North Panola will not open the season until Thursday, November 10 at the Coldwater Tournament.




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