| Commentary By Myra Bean
Encased in all its body armor, a conquistador would look to have the advantage over the wild, untrained tiger.
By definition, a conquistador is one who conquers.
Conquistadors work day and night building their body into battle-ready condition. What could a lowly tiger – a jungle cat at that – do.
Jungle cats – tigers – though untrained by man, learn life lessons from mother nature.
At the top of the jungle food chain, the tiger growl warns inhabitants he is on the prowl. The tiger roar puts fear in the hearts of every creature who hears it. Those who know the carnivore devours his prey without mercy learn where not to tread.
Not so for the man-trained conquistador. He thinks only to muzzle the tiger and then claim the spoils as his own. He tries to use his poisoned arrows to strike, to maim and to kill.
But the tiger smells him from far off and leaves his comfortable post because he knows man is his deadliest enemy. Then with a stealth known only to that breed of animal, sneaks up behind the warriors one by one and takes them out of the battle.
Thus the arrow never leaves the bow. The animal is never cornered to be muzzled and never downed to have its massive paws bound.
MHSAA 5A North Half
As so the nationally-ranked South Panola Tigers have put together a 43-game win streak and back-to-back state championships, having won 57 of their last 58 games.
The Olive Branch Conquistadors (Quistors) return to Batesville tonight, much to their disappointment, to war with the battle-tested Tigers for the opportunity to play for the 5A state championship title next Friday night.
It is only right that these two teams meet again to once and for all settle the question of who reigns supreme in North Mississippi.
No team is perfect. Most people forget these are teenage young men out on the field playing like pros. These young men still forget things like tying their shoes, ironing their clothes, taking their books to school and the list goes on.
Even on the gridiron, they go left when the play calls for them to pull right.
This and more are elements which make football so exciting, what brings out people who would normally stay home on a likely cold Friday Night, according to Accuweather.
The weather calls for mostly cloudy skies and a chance for a couple of showers late, and warmer temperatures. The winds will hail from the SSE at 12 mph with a temperature of 45? F with a real feel of 38? F.
Olive Branch has done an outstanding job this season of living up to its claims. The only blight on their record is a 27-3 loss to South Panola October 7 where over 13,000 fans witnessed this contest.
Those in the know say a bigger crowd could be in Batesville tonight for the season’s final home game to witness the rematch while others claim there will be a lot of people there but maybe not that many.
"All the kids love playing in front of a big crowd," tiger head coach Ricky Woods said. "They just want to play the game."
Last week South Panola was hitting on all cylinders offensively, defensively and special teams as it handed Columbus a sound 62-14 whipping. Olive Branch handed Madison Central a 22-10 loss to advance to this round.
This week it is more important than ever that the Tigers not turn over the ball, according to Woods.
"We can’t make mistakes," Woods said. "We have to be real aggressive and physical."
Woods said Olive Branch is the best team they have played this year.
"They are very, very talented," he said.
Woods reported the team has had a very good week of practice and the coaches and players are excited about the game.
"I’m sure Olive Branch’s coaches and players are excited about playing, too," Woods said.
As for his game plan, Woods said they will use pretty much the same thing.
"We don’t go too far from it," he said.
In comparing some statistics, South Panola has scored 471 points this season and allowed 133. Olive Branch has scored 543 and allowed 101.
South Panola scored the most points against Olive Branch while Olive Branch has two shutouts on the season. The Tigers have one shutout this season.
South Panola has a total offense of 5,583 yards including 4,691 yards on the ground.
Three Tiger players have 1,000 rushing yard seasons: senior running back Rickey Sanford, 1,519; junior quarterback Leroy Diggs, 1,071; and junior fullback Jeramie Griffin, 1,066.
Olive Branch boasts of the three Dandy Dozen players on its roster who have done an admirable job in leading the team this year: senior quarterback Anthony Summers, senior wide receiver Markeith Summers and senior defensive back Allen Walker.
Quarterback Summers needs just three more yards rushing to break the 1,000-yard rushing barrier this season. Should Summers break 1,000 yards rushing Friday night, he will become the first Olive Branch quarterback in the school’s history to run and throw for 1,000 yards each.
Summers also needs only three more passing yards to have 3,000 passing yards in his career.
Kickoff for tonight’s game is 7 p.m. on Tiger Field.
Tickets are $7 and may be purchased at the high school today from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. After school, the ticket booth will open an hour earlier than usual at 5 p.m.