Sports / Outdoors – 9/5/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 5, 2006

The Panolian: SPORTS – September 5, 2006

  From the 9/5/06 issue of The Panolian       

     Mississippi State’s Derek Pegues (left) of Batesville returns this kickoff for some yards against South Carolina Thursday night. Mississippi State lost the season opener to the Gamecocks 15-0. Saturday, they will line up against No. 5 ranked Auburn for a telecast which will be begin at 11:30 a.m. in Starkville.
Ratliff takes role as a ND leader seriously
By Angie Ledbetter

Josh Ratliff has had football in his blood for several years.

He started playing in the seventh grade at South Panola as a defensive tackle and then moved to offensive line. He made a big decision two years ago when he decided to transfer to North Delta.

He currently plays for the Green Wave football team as an offensive tackle and defensive end. He said that he has been very happy since making that transfer.

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Ratliff proudly wears jersey No. 74 and takes it very seriously. He is a 6’0", 246-pound senior.
In his first year with the Green Wave team he played strong side tackle and defensive tackle.

Ratliff is very excited about the new coach this year.
"Coach Russo is an excellent coach," Ratliff said. "His coaching style is completely different than anyone that I have ever played under. He is also a great person. He cares about us and wants to know what we think and how we feel.

"That’s one of the key things that I have love about him being my coach," Ratliff added. "He teaches us individually and gives us one on one advice."

According to Ratliff, Russo likes for the players to ask questions and he does not get mad if they ask him something for the tenth time.

"We’re not afraid to ask him anything," Ratliff said. "We know he isn’t going to jump down our throats about it."

This was also the first time Ratliff has seen a new coach that everybody on the team loves.

"That is the kind of person that he is," he said. "We work a whole lot better this year. Our fall practices have gone great. Everyone has shown up for them and has given 110 percent."

Russo asked the seniors to be leaders, Ratliff said.
"He is really big on leadership," he said. "He wants us to break it down like a family and that’s what we are this year is a family."

Ratliff thinks of himself as one of the leaders and wants to set an example for the younger players.

"For one reason, I am a senior this year and another reason is I want to keep the underclassmen pepped up," he said. "When I come to the sidelines, even though they’re not playing, I want to keep them pepped up."

In setting an example, he wants the younger players to be respectful at all times and give 110 percent in every single play.

"I don’t want them to ever give up at any time in any game no matter what," he said.

Ratliff saw areas that needed improvement in the jamboree, especially in the offense.

"We plan on working real hard on our offense," he said. "Overall, I wasn’t 100 percent pleased. We played our best but I think that there is a whole lot more room for improvements."

As far as the game against Magnolia Heights, Ratliff said they were really excited before the game.

"I think that we might have been almost too excited," he admitted. "I think that some of the players were nervous because it was the first game. I don’t think that Magnolia Heights was that much better of a team to score 47 points on us. I just think that we didn’t play our full game and play like we should have."

He said tackling or lack thereof was one of their biggest problems against Magnolia Heights.

"We didn’t tackle," he said.

Turnovers was another problem. He said you cannot win a game with that many turnovers.

The seniors were not that "down" after the game, according to Ratliff.

"We hung our heads because we all knew that we just didn’t play well," he said.

Ratliff said he was impressed with how calm Russo stayed during the game. He remarked other coaches would have been "going crazy" to lose by that margin.

"He kept real calm and tried to keep our heads up," Ratliff said. "He told us don’t quit. We kept playing but we got down on ourselves especially losing like that. Also, we were really disappointed because we were really playing for him and wanted to win that game for him and we felt like we let him down in a way. He is a winner and we wanted to win for him."

Ratliff is looking forward to playing the rest of his senior year.

"I want this year to be very special for me since it is my senior year," he said.

Josh has a family that is very proud of him. They support him in everything that he does. His parents are Brady and Candice McMillen of Batesville and Herbert Ratliff Jr. of Parsons, Tenn. He has one brother, Caleb, who is currently serving in Iraq and one sister, Sarah Kate. His grandparents are Leon and Glenda Tubbs of Sumner, Oscar and Gloria McMillen of New Albany and Mildred Ratliff of Marks.

Old timers game on tap; former players needed
An old-timers baseball game is scheduled for Saturday, September 16 at American Legion Park to benefit four South Panola Tiger baseball players who were injured in an auto collision during the summer leaving them with extensive medical bills.

Sponsored by the South Panola Chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) as a fall project, tickets for the event are $6 and allow the holder to hear Gospel music beginning at 4:30 and enjoy a chicken dinner with all the trimmings beginning at 5 p.m. followed by a game featuring local celebrities and used-to-bees.

All proceeds for the event will go to the four wreck victims according local FCA sponsor Randy Boren who says that the South Panola chapter includes approximately 100 members.

Tyler Benson, Monroe Harrison, Brandon Taylor and Jonathan Ware were all seriously injured in the wreck that occurred July 13 near Philadelphia. Three have been released but Taylor remains in the hospital.

All were members of the South Panola varsity baseball team.

Those interested in the evening of baseball, gospel music and dinner should contact any baseball team member or member of Junior Civitan for tickets.

FCA’s vision is to see the world impacted for Jesus through the influence of coaches and athletes with a mission to present athletes and coaches and all whom they influence the challenge and adventure of receiving and serving Jesus in their relationships.

The 19th Annual Sardis Lakeshore Cleanup Day will be held on Saturday, Sept. 9 in conjunction with Public Lands Day.  To participate in the cleanup effort, all volunteers should arrive at Engineers Point at 7 a.m. to receive instructions from one of the Park Rangers.  
T-shirts will be given to all registered participants while they last and at noon a free hotdog lunch will be served.  Make sure you wear clothes and shoes that you won’t mind getting wet and dirty and please bring a pair of gloves.  For more information on this event, please contact Park Ranger George Harris at the Sardis Lake Field Office at (662) 563-4531.
South Panola High School baseball will host an "Old Timers Benefit Baseball" tournament on Saturday, September 16. Tickets are $6 and may be purchased at the South Panola High School Office, from Shelter Insurance, any player or parent.
     Fee includes admission and a chicken plate. Proceeds will benefit the four baseball players who were injured in a car accident recently.
     Any former South Panola baseball player is eligible to play. To play contact coach Brad Lightsey at 934-5000 or Ben or Randy Boren at Shelter Insurance 563-2772.
The South Panola High School baseball program will host a Fall Instructional League every Tuesday in September 2006 from 2 to 5 p.m. Children ages 10 to 13 can participate. The cost is $40 and includes a t-shirt. T-shirt sizes will be taken the first day of the session.
     The dates of the sessions will be September 5, 12, 19 and 26.
     Sessions will stress baseball fundamentals such as fielding, throwing, hitting, pitching and catching as well as squad games.
     For an application or more information, contact head baseball coach Patrick Robey at (662) 934-2104. Registration deadline is September 1.
Season tickets for the 2006 football season are on sale through August 4, for people who previously held season tickets from last year.
     Tickets may be purchased for $45 from 8 a.m. to
2 p.m. Monday thru Friday in the high school office. Remaining season tickets will go on sale to the public on August 7.
     For more information, call 563-4756.
     South Panola will open the season on Friday,
August 25, in Clarksdale. The Tigers will play a pre-season scrimmage in Jackson at Hughes Field, where Provine plays.
     Participating in the scrimmage with South Panola and Provine will be Brandon High School.
Game coverage delayed
Due to early Labor Day deadlines last week, coverage of the weekend ballgames will be delayed until the Friday, September 8 edition.

Included will be game coverage from the South Panola, North Delta and North Panola games from September 1.

Also, there will be pregame coverage for the local teams who will be for the first time this season be at home.

South Panola will host Germantown. North Delta will host district foe West Memphis Christian and North Panola will host Rosa Fort in non-conference action.

North Delta Cheerleaders set high goals
By Angie Ledbetter

Raising the school spirit at North Delta is a top priority for the North Delta High School Cheerleaders.

One way is coming up with a "Spirit Theme" each week. The cheerleaders take great pride in being ?The Team Behind The Team,’ encouraging all athletic teams to support each other.
The North Delta Cheerleaders have set goals and purposes that they strive to live up to.

Those goals and purposes are to help North Delta students feel like they are a part of their school by getting them involved in pep rallies to support their fellow students.

By doing this, the cheerleaders feel that they are helping students show good sportsmanship, represent their school well by being aware of their actions and attitudes, and to celebrate each other’s achievements.

The cheerleaders support several organizations at North Delta and are always well prepared when appearing at various athletic events. They make it a high goal to be a great ambassador for North Delta School.

Spirit-raising events are very important to the North Delta High School Cheerleaders. There are too many to mention, but this squad sure knows how to create a support system for the North Delta athletes.

The cheerleaders create spirit items such as shakers, foam fingers, t-shirts and many other things for fans to bring to the games. The football stadium is decorated with balloons and streamers.

They host a "Mini Cheer Camp" every year for girls in grades K-4 through 5th grade, where they teach each grade a dance, a cheer and a chant to be performed at half-time of the Green Wave home football games.

The young ladies have also sold "mini" football jerseys to the boys in the elementary grades to match the Green Wave High School Football Team. The majority of these elementary boys take their matching jerseys very serious. The boys are seen at all of the football games wearing their jerseys, and the girls wear their cheerleader uniforms that also match the high school cheer uniform.

The North Delta High School Cheerleaders also take great pride in their academics. For the fall of 2006, they have set a goal to have a team GPA of 3.5, which they are slightly concerned about since most of the team is enrolled in advanced placement and college level courses. But the squad feels that if they are all working together to keep up their averages and raise them, that can be one more thing to bond them as a team.

This year the North Delta High School Cheerleaders plan to make community service another major aspect of their year.

They plan to host a fund raising event to benefit the children at Le Bonhuer Children’s Hospital, as well as other events to help with local charities.

The 2006 – 2007 North Delta High School Cheerleaders set a record this year in Panama City Beach. Six cheerleaders were selected by the Universal Cheerleaders Association as All-Star Cheerleaders.

"They have always been a hard working group from the beginning," said sponsor Cindy Beard. "There have been past cheerleaders who have been selected but never this many in one year. There have been some in the past to go to New York City to cheer in the Macy’s Day Parade."

Each cheerleader is very proud of her fellow team members who have gone on to cheer on the collegiate level at the University of Mississippi, Delta State University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Northwest Mississippi Community College.

The North Delta High School Cheerleaders invite you to come out and "Catch the Spirit" of the Green Waves at the pep rallies on Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the school gym and attend the Green Wave football games to help cheer the Green Wave football team to victory – and maybe on to a State Championship this year!

Watch the greatest fights take place in the wild
By Robert Neill

I was sitting out in back last weekend overlooking Betsy’s High Place, where the Lion lies down with the Lamb, and a squirrel scampered across the lower part of the Mammy Grudge ditchbank and started up the side of a tall slim straight hackberry tree.

Squirrels ain’t particularly popular with the First Lady of Brownspur, especially this long hot dry summer. She waters her flowerbeds to keep them pretty, and squirrels dig holes in them, even digging up the plants.

She waters the St. Augustine lawn, and squirrels dig holes in the yard. I’m supposed to be carrying out her orders of executing squirrels on sight, regardless of the fact that there’s a season on the bushytailed diggers.

But as I sat up to see did I have time to grab a 22 rifle, I saw that another hunter had entered the arena. From back toward the Mammy Grudge, a great horned owl zipped through the treetops like unto a mallard coming in to flooded woods, and he snatched that squirrel off the side of that hackberry in a split second!

I jumped up to run up the ditchbank, but the owl wasn’t having anyone to share his supper. He flapped off across the Mammy Grudge, the bushytail barely squirming in his claws.

I figured it had to be Major.

We raised/rehabbed a great horned owl several summers ago, the young bird having tangled with a fish pond aerator. Son Adam, who pitched for a couple of championship baseball teams on the Millsaps Majors, named him Major and taught him to ride on his wrist.

We kept him for several months until he could fly well again, but Major has stayed close by since we released him. He paired up with a Miz Major a year or so ago, and there was a big nest I figured was theirs in a tall cottonwood tree across the Mammy Grudge. Anyhoo, it made Betsy feel better knowing that Major is looking out for her flowers on the High Place.

Joe the Rookie once came in excited from a morning on a deer stand close by, where he had seen a hawk snatch a squirrel off the side of a tree right beside his stand. He said the bird flashed by, reached out to grab the squirrel, and hit the ground full speed, taking the lick on his shoulder. The hawk laid there squeezing the life out of the bushytail, until Joe thought maybe the bird had been hurt, too. But finally the hawk sat up, fluffled up its feathers, and began feeding on its prey.

I have written about it before, but one of the most dramatic confrontations I’ve ever seen an owl engage in was once when I was headed to a Kairos International Prison Ministry meeting in Jackson, and was balling the jack early on a Saturday morning along that mostly-deserted stretch of highway between Holly Bluff and Satartia.

A half mile up ahead, a huge moccasin started across the road ? and if you can tell it’s a stumptail at a half mile, it’s a BIG snake! Having been struck three times by such vipers, I stomped it, to try to run him over.

But before I got there, a great horned owl swooped down and pinned the snake to the asphalt by its midsection, then began tearing at the scaly body with its beak. For the uninitiated in the ways of owldom, a full-grown owl can literally bite nails in two!

I slammed on the brakes less than 20 yards away, to watch the fight. The owl had its wings cupped out, and the stumptail was whanging away at the bird, though it appeared that the wing was taking most of the strikes. They fought tooth and toenails for what seemed like ten minutes, then the owl took off with the snake in its claws, still striking, and flew to the top of a cypress, where it began to feed on the writhing serpent.

As soon as I could get back home, I called my favorite wildlife injury expert, to see if an owl was somehow immune to moccasin venom.

Dr. Ed expressed a woeful degree of ignorance on that subject. Well, then, I wanted to know, what would he prescribe for a snakebit owl? There was a lot of hemming and hawing, to the effect that he really had no experience in snakebit owls.

Okay, then, what about owlbit snakes, I wondered. I knew where one of those was that he could work on at least parts of.

What DO they teach those people in Veterinarian School?


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