Sports / Outdoors – 10/10/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Panolian: SPORTS – October 10, 2006

  From the 10/10/06 issue of The Panolian       
South Panola sets new state record!

Woods attributes success to offseason hard work, community support, stable coaching staff
     Fireworks were set off to declare to those around that South Panola had broken the state record of 51 consecutive wins for the state’s longest win streak Friday night with a 42-0 victory over Columbus.
By Myra Bean

The pressure to break the state’s longest winning streak is off the back of South Panola Tiger head coach Ricky Woods, but as it goes with football another goal is ready to take its place.

According to senior linebacker and national recruit, Chris Strong, the Tigers are going for 60 straight wins and and their fourth straight 5A state championship this season.

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South Panola broke the record of 51 with a 42-0 shutout win over Columbus Friday night.

Had it not been for a 21-14 loss to Wayne County in the 2002 state championship, these goals would have already been fulfilled by South Panola. In Woods five year stint at South Panola, that is the only blemish in an otherwise perfect record of 66-1.
Woods sat down to a special interview about his years at South Panola and the situation in which he finds himself now.

He said he and his wife, Susan, came here for him to coach the football team, but they have had a rewarding experience.

"Not only is the football great, the community is the best community we have ever lived in," Woods said. "We really enjoy it. It has been exciting to be around the coaches, the kids, the community, having the success we’ve had. It is sort of a credit to the community itself because this is where our children we coach come from, and they should be very proud. I am proud of our young men, and the community should be proud of them."

And vice versa to that statement, Woods said.

"Our children and our coaching staff are proud of our community," he added.

Under Woods tutelage, the football team has literally spoiled the Batesville and South Panola community. Woods laughed at that question, and said "I guess so."

Wins are expected and close wins are not handled too well by the supporting public. Case in point was the recent 12-7 Tiger victory over Olive Branch. Also the close wins over Clarksdale and Moss Point to start the season had people questioning the strength of the Tiger team.

Nevertheless, the Tigers have met every challenge head-on and brought their adoring fans the victories they expect.

This setting the state record thing was something Woods said you never speculate on. There are many different aspects of coaching the team he had to look before he could he even think of setting such lofty goals.

One thing to take into consideration was the discipline factor of the players, injuries that can result in a lost season for players and how well the team and the coaches would mesh together.

"You never speculate," Woods said. "It’s hard to speculate because everything’s got to fit. You have so many areas you have to look at to hold and piece everything together.

"It worked out really good," he added in the Wednesday, October 4 interview. "I had no speculation that we would be 51-0 or 65-1 at this point. I don’t think anybody else did either. I don’t think I am the only one either."

Woods said it is a credit to the kids to keep playing hard and working hard in the offseason to continue to win.

Woods looked back over the four teams which have contributed to this record setting event.

2003 South Panola Tigers
"The 2003 team was the most talented team I had ever seen," Woods said. "They were very, very talented. We were senior-laden. We had 21 seniors on this team. We were just really, really good at every position. A lot of great talent. A lot of physical players. A lot of these guys are playing on Saturdays."

The 2003 team was quarterbacked by junior Derek Pegues at the time and flanked by tailback Marcus Griffin. The defense was led by Jamarca Sanford, Demario Bobo, Peria Jerry and John Jerry. All of these players are playing Division 1 football now, except for Griffin.

2004 South Panola Tigers
The 2004 team lost 18 starters to graduation. That was Derek Pegues’, John Jerry’s and Travis Sanford’s senior year, the three Dandy Dozen players so chosen by the Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Jackson.

"We regrouped and had a tremendous year," Woods said. "That was the year that surprised everybody. The only people it did not surprise was our players."

Woods repeated a story he heard Derek Pegues tell.

"When we first started someone asked him what kind of season he think we were going to have," Woods remembered smiling. "He said we are fixing to win 15 and go 44-1. They sort of took it upon themselves to be good leaders, to lead the pack."

2005 South Panola Tigers
Then the next year we lost 12 good players.

"In Josh Boren’s senior year, we had a lot of good players," he said. "We only had two to sign division 1, Kerry Hoskins and Rodney Gray. The rest were junior college players. They were a bunch of good players that played together so well."

Woods said the 2005 team probably improved more from the beginning of the season to the end than any team that he had ever coached.

2006 South Panola Tigers
"This year this team here is 6-0 and we could have been 3-3," Woods said. "We have had three really good games. They battled back and battled back. They just wouldn’t quit and wouldn’t give up.

"All of these teams won’t quit, won’t give up," Woods added. "They are not going to give up anything easy. They are playing to win. I think good dedication from all of them in the offseason is what makes our team."

South Panola claims two Dandy Dozen players this year in linebacker Chris Strong and fullback/tailback Jeramie Griffin. Strong was just named to the U.S. Army All-American team which will play in San Antonio, Texas, January 6 at the Alamodome.

Pegues also played in this game his senior year.

Woods explained that when the season starts they do not practice the team that long because the players give out.

"The later the year goes you have to cut back on your practice time to save their legs for the latter part of the season," he said.

If anyone wanted to know the secret to the South Panola Tiger success, Woods said the key is the off season program and working "really, really hard."
Coaching Staff

Since Woods took over in 2002, the coaching staff has remained the same, except Ron Oakes. He left after the second year.

"There haven’t been any changes," Woods said. "You have stability in the coaching staff which is crucial to have this record.

"Because if you have coaching changes, regularly, they have to get to know the kids and different coaching techniques, different philosophies and different personalities," Woods added. "If you can just keep it the same, if you have a good staff, you are a lot better. We are fortunate to have a very good coaching staff."

Assistant coaches to Woods include Willis Wright, assistant head coach/defensive coordinator; Michael Fair, offensive line coach; Arnie Oakes, tight ends; Lucian King, defensive ends; Mark Weaver, defensive tackles; Trenell Edwards, defensive back/wide receivers; John Davis, running backs/B-team.

The junior high coaches on the sideline include Pete Robertson, Robert Lightsey and ninth grade coach Gary Sims.

The team through the four years of high school go through a lot of turnover, excluding graduation.

The 2006 team started with almost 70 players in the ninth grade and only 12 seniors remain.

"That’s a pretty big turnover," Woods said. "We are usually playing with 20 or less in the senior class and we usually have 60 to 70 in ninth grade. A lot of them did not want to go through with it."

South Panola Administration

"We have a lot of support with our administration," Woods said. "We started off with Dr. C.L. Stevenson and Dr. Del Phillips. Now we have Dr. Keith Shaffer and Dr. Gearl Loden. We have been fortunate all four of these men really contribute to the athletic program here. They are really interested and really behind us here."

Woods also made special mention of the high school administration including assistant principals Mrs. Ruth Ball, Mrs. Kaye Smythe, Mr. Billy Smith and Mr. Leslie Busby.

"These are people you don’t hear a lot about, but it all starts with them. Then it filters to your teachers. We have a good teaching staff up here.

"We have our administrators behind us," Woods added. "You’ve got your teachers behind you. You’ve got your community behind you. You’ve got your student body behind you.

"It’s sort of hard not to play hard," he said. "It’s good pressure because everybody wants you to win, but you’ve also got their support.

"Mentally, the children need it ," Woods said, "and the coaching staff needs it."

With the win against Columbus, Woods logged his 196th career win in 18 seasons.

Cougars get first win
By Myra Bean

With a 27-24 lead and a powerful Byhalia Indian offense with the ball, North Panola’s Michael Johnson intercepted a Byhalia pass to end the game.

North Panola’s Bruce Wilbourn had just scored on a 15-yard touchdown reception to retake the lead 27-24.

Byhalia was moving in the final minute of the game when Johnson jumped in front of the pass and sealed the Cougar victory.

North Panola had a 20-6 halftime lead, but Byhalia fought back to take the lead 24-20 in the third quarter.

Even though the season is more than half over for the Cougars, it was important to get this first win.

The Cougars started strong as Tyrus Mack intercepted an Indian pass and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown. With Mack’s PAT, the Cougars led 7-0 with 8:28 left in the first quarter.

The Cougars padded their lead in the second quarter with quarterback Perry Trammell’s one-yard run with 9:44 on the clock. Mack kicked the PAT for the 14-0 lead.

Trammell followed the blocking of Templeton Hardy and company on the left side, but he had to bounce to the outside as the blocking scheme collapsed the Indians to the inside.

Denard Presley scored a third touchdown on a two-yard run for the Cougars with 5:10 left in the second quarter. The PAT failed and the Cougar lead remained 20-0.

Right before the half, the Indians got on the board and cut the lead to 20-6 at halftime.

The Indians continued their attack to get back in the game and took a 24-20 lead in the third and fourth quarters, shutting down the Cougars’ offense.

Also hauling in an interception for the Cougars was Wilbourn, but the Cougars were unable to convert that possession into a score.

The Cougars had 194 total offensive yards for the game.

The Cougars will have an open date this week, and head coach Vincent Johnson gave the team Monday off for practice, but said today they will be up and running again.

The Cougars have two more games remaining in the regular season – Water Valley at home October 20 and Senatobia on the road October 27. In order for them to receive consideration to be in the playoffs, the Cougars must win both district games.

Editor’s Note: Ken Daugherty contributed to this article.

Congrats, Tigers and Tiger fans

By Myra Bean

Congratulations, Tigers!

This is an amazing feat you have attained from 2003 to the present.

Thanks for the memories and the chance to celebrate in the middle of the season.

These few pages on the front and back are hopefully some keepsake pages for you and your families for years to come to commemorate this once in a lifetime event.

Many of us did not even realize there was a state record to even break, well knowing one that was in reach to break.

A special thanks to the advertisers who got on board to put out these special pages in a hurry.

We contacted them last week and they were glad to help us congratulate you and show their support.

To the greatest fans and community in the world, a big thanks for your support. The players, coaches and school feel the love. Without your support, they know they would not have gotten this far.

It would be no fun if they did not have you to share in this honor.

Wear your University of South Panola shirts proudly as the Tigers play hard to build on this outstanding record they have already established.

The season will not get any easier for them and it will be difficult without the community behind them.

  Mississippi Xpress
     The Mississippi Xpress 11 and under USSSA team is ranked No. 1 nationally out of 564 teams in its league.
     The team has 320 USSSA points. The second place team has 310 points.
     The Xpress is 14-8 overall and averages 7.8 runs per game. It allows 4.9 runs per game.
     Their record versus teams in their class is 14-4 and they have a power rating of 1134.
     In the various tournaments, the Xpress has two first places, two second places and one seventh place.
  South Panola softball
     The South Panola Lady Tigers defeated Clarksdale 7-5 in seven innings Monday afternoon.
     Diamond Barr pitched the complete game for the win. Tyunna Diggs was good for two homeruns. She also drove home three runners on the first homerun.
     The Lady Tigers are preparing for the playoff season. Tuesday, October 10, they will play Madison Central in Madison for the best two of three game series.
SP sets state record
By Myra Bean

Thousands of loyal Tiger fans were on hand to witness South Panola breaking the state record for consecutive wins Friday night.

The Tigers are 52-0 after a 42-0 win over the Columbus Falcons in Robert H. Dunlap Stadium. The record dates back to the first game of the 2003 season. Under head coach Ricky Woods, the Tigers hold an impressive 66-1 record through four and a half seasons.

Mississippi High School Activities Association Director Ennis Proctor was on hand to present the coaches, along with superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer and principal Dr. Gearl Loden, with tokens of appreciation to commemorate the feat.

"You will remember this the rest of your lives," Proctor told the players, coaches and fans who stayed to watch the postgame ceremony, including fireworks.

Before the game, the Ole Miss handbell choir signed the National Anthem as the South Panola band played while the ROTC presented the colors. Former South Panola student Whitney Stafford was part of that choir.

Presenting the colors were Shaniquaw Patterson, Eddie Fondren, Aquarius Wallace and Brittany Broadnax.

The South Panola cheerleaders presented the coaches and players with a cake that had Congratulations South Panola, 52-0, on the top.

Though the actual game had to be played, preparations for Friday’s game had been taking place all week long. Members of The Clarion Ledger were on hand most of the day interviewing the coaches and spending time getting to know Batesville.

The Clarion Ledger featured the Tigers in a big spread, the front page of the news section and the front page of the sports section.

Now that the milestone has been reached, South Panola will continue the march through the end of the season.

A spokesperson for Grenada on the Mississippi High School Scoreboard Show said Grenada wants South Panola to keep on winning. He said the Chargers have something for South Panola on November 3.

Tiger Chris Strong, who was just named to the U.S. Army All-American team, said the next goal for the Tigers is to go 60-0. The Tigers need to finish out the season undefeated with a state championship to reach that goal.

"I believe this is the best team that has ever come through Mississippi," Strong said. "We want to thank the coaching staff a whole lot."

Tigers shut out Columbus 42-0
By Myra Bean

Anticipation was high Friday night as South Panola broke the state record for longest winning streak of 51 set by Hamilton from 1979-1983.

South Panola tied the record September 29 with a win over Olive Branch and broke it with a 42-0 shutout of the Columbus Falcons (2-4 overall, 1-2 district).

The game had to be played 48 minutes, but it was almost all over in the first quarter as the Tigers jumped to a 21-0 lead.

South Panola (7-0 overall, 3-0 district) scored on all its possessions before halftime except one which ended in a turnover on downs.

Tiger tailback Tigg Barksdale scored two touchdowns in the first half. He scored on a one-yard run with 9:01 left in the first quarter and a five-yard run with 7:57 left in the second quarter. Tigg Barksdale also had an interception in the first quarter which turned into a one-yard run by senior fullback Jeramie Griffin with 22 seconds left.

Quarterback Leroy Diggs scored on a 13-yard run with 4:39 left in the first quarter.

The Tigers led 28-0 at the half.

In the third quarter, the only score was a 79-yard interception returned for a touchdown by Bud Barksdale at the 3:38 mark.

The last score to ice the shutout victory was a 59-yard pass from Diggs to wide receiver senior Roderick Jefferson with 10:25 left in the game. Jefferson caught the ball on the far right side of the field, shook off a couple of defenders and then put his 6’6" legs to work outrunning nearby defenders.

Kicker David Renfroe kicked six of six PATs.

South Panola had 168 yards passing and 154 rushing for a total of 322 yards. Diggs completed eight of 15 attempts.

The Tigers only punted once, while Columbus punted eight times.

The Tigers held Columbus to 119 total yards, including 110 rushing.

Handling the ball for the Tigers were Tigg Barksdale, seven carries, 54 yards, two touchdowns; Griffin, eight carries, 43 yards, one touchdown; Reuben Corley, two carries, 26 yards; David Conner, two carries, 20 yards; and Leroy Diggs, 10 carries, 10 yards, one touchdown.

Roderick Jefferson had three receptions for 82 yards and one touchdown. Montez Austin had one reception for 13 yards.

Diggs completed seven of 13 pass attempts for 110 yards and one touchdown. Renfroe completed one of two pass attempts for 59 yards and one touchdown.

Leading tacklers were Kevin Young, nine total, half a sack; Marvin Burdett, eight total tackles, half a sack; Chris Strong, six total tackles; and Terrance Pope, five total tackles.

Senior football players and cheerleaders and their parents were introduced in a pregame ceremony. The Tigers’ last regular season home game will be October 20 and homecoming will be celebrated that night against Southaven.

Seniors recognized were Chris Strong, Jeramie Griffin, Kevin Young, Marcus Lee, Leroy Diggs, Rodney Diggs, Maurice Market, C.J. Sowden, Demario Kincaid, Terrance Griffin, Vandell Pollard, Marlon Wilks, Hunter Bailey, Demetrius Dunn and Roderick Jefferson.

Cheerleaders recognized were Dixie Wingler, Bianca Smith, Kristin Geeslin, Allie Ware and Krystin Allen.

Other 5A games of interest include a barn burner they had in Grenada who hosted Olive Branch. Olive Branch won 15-11, but not before they knew they were in for another fight for their lives.

Southaven played havoc with Tupelo in Southaven. Tupelo pulled out the 16-7 win. Southaven led 7-0 at halftime. Tupelo scored 16 unanswered points and held Southaven scoreless in the second half.

Another 1-5A game was a blow out as Starkville defeated Horn Lake 63-23.

The Tigers are nationally ranked in different spots in numerous polls. In the state The Clarion Ledger and the Associated Press have the Tigers ranked No. 1. Nationally, the National Tony Poll has the Tigers holding strong at the No. 4 position. In the USA Today Poll, the Tigers are inching closer and closer to a top 10 spot at No. 17. They started the season at No. 23.

The National Prep Poll keeps the Tigers posted between the No. 12 and No. 14 spots.

Sports Illustrated or has the Tigers holding strong to the No. 8 spot.

The Tigers will be back on the road Friday night in Tupelo for another district game. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

ND upsets Delta 33-28
By Angie Ledbetter

The North Delta Green Waves held off a last second push by the Delta Academy Raiders holding on to a lead and a 33-28 upset win.

The Raiders were undefeated coming into the contest, but the Green Waves were undeterred in their vision to win.

Delta also had a 17-game regular season win streak going that was snapped with the Green Wave win.

North Delta (4-3 overall, 2-1 district) had the ball the last 3:38 minutes of the game and was running the time off the clock. Through an injury and the Raiders calling timeouts, the clock was stopped a couple of times.

The Green Waves were pushing toward the end zone, but with two seconds left in the game, they turned the ball over on downs.

Delta tried for a big play, but the Green Wave defense held its ground.

"I am very proud of this win for the team, the coaching staff, the school and the community," head coach Richard Russo said. "It is a heated rivalry and the North Delta fans can hang their hands on the win for the next 365 days."

It was one of the sweetest victories for the North Delta Green Wave.

The Green Wave crowd turned out in a big way as they followed the team to Marks and cheered them on the entire game. There was standing room only on the visitor’s side.

The excitement from the crowd was tangible in the renewal of this rivalry.

The Green Wave took the opening kickoff and on the second play of the game, Dakota Mabry broke up the middle for a 40-yard gain. The Green Waves scored first on a quarterback Jim Tyler Dalrymple seven-yard keeper. The Green Waves were penalized and had to kick the PAT from 25 yards. Dalrymple’s kick was good to give the Green Wave the 7-0 lead 9:07 left in the first quarter.

The Raiders answered with a 10-yard pass touchdown reception from Trent Sinquefield to Kyle Corbin. With the PAT by Taylor Bailey, the score was tied at seven.

The Raiders took the lead with 2:22 on the clock on a Jordan Campbell 37-yard touchdown pass from Sinquefield. With the PAT the Raiders led 14-7.

The scoring was not over in the first quarter as Green Wave senior fullback Dakota Mabry scored on a six-yard run. To make things more interesting, the PAT was no good and the Raiders held a slight 14-13 lead.

The Raiders scored again with 8:50 left in the first half on a Sinquefield two-yard run. The PAT by Bailey was good to give the Raiders a 21-13 lead.

About four minutes before halftime, the game got more exciting when the Green Waves fought to stay in the game on a Green Wave wide receiver Nick Douglas 48-yard touchdown pass from Dalrymple. The two point conversion by Dalrymple was good and the Green Waves tied the game at 21 which stood at halftime.

The Green Wave continued the fight as the underdog into the third quarter. Dalrymple scored on a 51-yard run. The PAT failed and the Green Wave held a precarious a 27-21 lead with 9:49 on the clock.

Almost two minutes later, the Raiders showed that they were still fighting for the win when Sinquefield scored on a five-yard run. With the PAT the Raiders retook the lead 28-27 at the 8:08 mark.

From that point on, it was all Green Wave football. The last points of the game came when Douglas scored on a 36-yard punt return. The two-point conversion was no good but the Green Wave had retaken the five-point lead, 33-28.

Delta did not give and kept fighting to regain the advantage, but the Green Wave defense held steady.

"It was a very exciting Thursday and Friday nights," said Russo. "Counting junior varsity, junior high and varsity, we had a three-game win streak, and we look to continue that into this week."
On the bus to the game, Russo said he and the team had a really good pregame talk.

"I challenged them to use the football knowledge that the coaches had taught them," he said. "I challenged them to do their techniques and really just challenged them to whip the person that was in front of them every play.

"I told them that we could ask them to do it for that person, the town, or the community, but when it comes down to it, you have got to want to do it for yourselves and for your teammates," Russo continued. "They really responded well to that."

It was not very hard for the players to get fired up for Delta, according to Russo.

"North Delta and Delta is the oldest rivalry in history in the school. North Delta has predominately been the football school and Delta has been predominately the basketball school."

Russo said he told the school at the pep rally on Friday that they needed to come that night so that they could say that they were there the night that North Delta upset Delta and ended their perfect season.

"Hats off to the North Delta coaching staff," Russo said. "We put some long hours in last Sunday. I thought long and hard on a game plan, and we just had a wonderful game plan.

"Offensively and special teams wise, we played almost as perfect a game as we could," Russo added. "I was a little bit disappointed defensively because we had some missed assignments that we aren’t suppose to have in our defensive scheme. It caused them to have some big plays."

The team was fired up during the entire game. Russo credits that to him challenging them to receive the ball first, take it down the field and score on the undefeated team.

"We took it down and scored in four plays on the opening drive and from that point on, they just believed that they could hang with those guys and beat them," Russo said. "In the fourth quarter, I kept screaming to them that I believed in them. I never gave up on them."

As far as improvements, Russo said the offensive line play has improved like leaps and bounds dating back to the Desoto game.

"That is allowing our offense to get more yardage and stay on the field longer," he said. "It keeps our defense off the field and that is one key ingredient to the improvements. As long as we have the ball, that means that they can’t score."

Russo said they are shrugging off the inexperience he talked about earlier in the season.

"We are starting to get some experience under our belts," he said. "Play makers are making plays on Friday night."

The Green Wave ended the game with 281 rushing yards on 44 carries.

Dalrymple completed two of four passes for 57 yards for a total offense of 332 yards. All purpose yards totaled 449. The Green Wave had 12 first downs and were penalized six times for 50 yards. The Waves lost one of three fumbles and threw one interception.

Carrying the ball for the Green Wave were Mabry, 19 carries, 164 yards, one touchdown; Dalrymple, 17 carries, 103 yards, two touchdowns, one two-point conversion, two punts for 78 yards – averaging 36 yards, one PAT; Douglas, one reception, 48 yards, two touchdowns; Evan West, eight carries, 14 yards; and Josh Garrott, one reception, nine yards.

On the defense, Garrott led with 10 tackles. Other defensive players include Evan West, seven tackles, one forced fumble; Mabry, six tackles; Britt Lawrence, five tackles; Nick Douglas, three tackles, one interception, one pass breakup; Josh Ratliff, Britton Crawford, and Arthur Kemp, three tackles each; Dalrymple, three tackles, one pass breakup; Andy Barns, two tackles; Blane Joyner, two tackles, one pass breakup; and Bateman Greenlee, one fumble recovery.

The Raiders had 34 carries for 280 rushing yards and completed three of five passes for 72 passing yards for a total offense of 352 yards. They had 11 first downs, were penalized five times for 30 yards, threw one interception and recovered their one fumble.

Friday night, the Green Wave will travel to Marianna, Ark. to take on the Lee Academy Cougars. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.


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