How hard is it to defeat a team the second time in the same season?
The South Panola Tigers will get a chance to find out when they travel to Columbus tonight to take on the Falcons for the second time in six weeks in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs.
South Panola traveled to Columbus October 14 to face a district team who had put forth anything but a consistent win season at that time.
They gave the Tigers a game to remember for the rest of the season. It then became a game to groan about when the news came that the Tigers would have to go back to Falcon territory to defend their spot in the playoffs.
The South Panola Tigers, still ranked No. 4 nationally in the National Tony Poll and No. 10 nationally in the USA Today poll, hold a 42-game win streak dating back to the beginning of the 2003 season. In 2002, the Tigers went undefeated until the state championship game where they lost to Wayne County.
A win over Columbus will put South Panola in contention for the North Half championship for the fourth straight year. But the road to that championship will go through the winner of the Olive Branch/Madison Central game tonight.
Columbus (6-6) has had anything but a predictable, staid season. They have lost two games by one point each. They shocked Region 1-5A with back-to-back wins over Starkville and Northwest Rankin.
When the Falcons played South Panola October 14, they put together some fourth quarter drives to pull within three points of the Tigers.
The Falcons have scored 262 points this year and allowed 284.
The South Panola football team has not really had a break even though school is out. They have practiced every morning for two hours to get ready for this matchup.
The Tigers defeated Vicksburg in the first round of playoffs last week 41-7.
Other 5A playoff games on tap tonight include Ocean Springs at Oak Grove and Meridian at George County. In 4A action, West Point will be at Clarksdale; West Lauderdale at Oxford; Wayne County at Mendenhall and Terry at West Jones.
Playing in the 3A playoffs are Senatobia at Cleveland East Side; Charleston at Amory; Morton at South Pike and Greene County at Hazelhurst.
Division 2A has some interesting games. The game between Mize and Lumberton will end the season of one of last year’s state champions. Mize is the 1A state champion from last year who moved to 2A during realignment. Lumberton is the defending 2A state champion.
Other 2A action includes West Bolivar at Baldwyn; Hollandale Simmons at Calhoun City; and Philadelphia at Perry Central.
The final division in the playoffs is 1A which has Coffeeville at Durant; Benoit Brooks at Weir; St. John at Puckett and Lake at Mount Olive.
The Academies are taking a break and will play the state championship games Thursday and Friday December 1 and 2.
In Academy AAA Division 1 Jackson Academy and Jackson Prep will square off Friday at 7 p.m. Academy AAA Division II featuring Starkville Academy and Heritage will be Friday at 1:30 p.m.
The Academy AA championship will be played between Simpson Academy and Copiah Academy on Thursday at 7 p.m.
The Academy A championship will be played between Lee, Ark. and River Oakes, La. at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Kickoff for the game in Columbus and all playoff games is 7 p.m.