Sports / Outdoors – 12/1/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 1, 2006

The Panolian: SPORTS – December 1, 2006

  From the 12/01/06 issue of The Panolian       

Tigers go for championship No. 6
     At the State Championship press conference held Monday in Jackson, the South Panola Tigers received the 5A North Half trophy and a Wilson football. Representing South Panola were (left to right) Kevin Young, Jeramie Griffin, Leroy Diggs and Chris Strong.
By Myra Bean

As the South Panola Tigers prepare to play in their fifth straight state championship, much of the Panola County population is expected to go with them.

For those who cannot make the trip, Batesville radio station WBLE will have the game live on 100.5 FM.

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Voice of the Tigers Bob Norris said he was trying to get better earlier this week to make the trip to Jackson and be on the radio tonight.

He reported he is doing well. Norris underwent surgery about three weeks ago and has missed all the playoff games.

Also for those who make the trip or do not make the trip, DVDs and VHS recordings will be available for sale for $35.

Order from Digital Video Productions, Inc., 2272 Hwy 21, Forest, MS 39074

For more information, call 601-507-0904 or email at Order ASAP to have back by Christmas.

In today’s edition of The Panolian is a special preview section including a pullout which reads "Tigers Rule" on one side with rosters of both teams on the other side.

These pullouts can be taken to the stadium and held up so the Meridian crowd can see the support that comes from the Tiger fans.

For those at home, keep up with the players with their numbers as the radio gives play-by-play.

The South Panola Tigers will meet the Meridian Wildcats in a rematch of last year’s 5A state championship tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Mississippi Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Jackson.

The Tigers (14-0) are led on the field by senior quarterback Leroy Diggs who has 901 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.

He has 824 passing yards with a 52 percent completion rate. He has thrown 10 touchdown passes.

Senior tailback Jeramie Griffin leads in rushing with 1,245 yards this year and 18 touchdowns. He also has 133 reception yards.

Senior Roderick Jefferson is the leading receiver with 694 yards and 11 touchdowns.

On defense the Tigers are led by seniors Chris Strong, 65 tackles, five sacks; Kevin Young, 65 tackles, seven and a half sacks, two interceptions; Marlon Wilks, 63 tackles, five sacks; and Marvin Burdette, 57 tackles, five and a half sacks.

Juniors Bud Barksdale and Tigg Barksdale lead the team in interceptions with four each.

South Panola is the home team tonight and will present the colors, say the invocation and render the National Anthem.

Tickets at the gate are $12.

The Spirit of the Tiger
By Lillie Skillom
Ole Miss student

Not many people know that the South Panola Tiger mascot came from an old legend. Rumor has it that in 1918 a circus came to town. Ring Master Richard Zimus was in charge. Each night he would introduce his famous tiger. The tiger was said to have been very brave. The tiger escaped the deadly hands of hunters in the African jungle. After his flight he saved Ring Master Richard’s grandfather from a dangerous wolf. The tiger came to America with the Zimus family. It was said to have been loyal to the family and to never have caused them any harm. This tiger would be the center of attention each night. Whenever the circus came to town, people would pack the tent. Nothing was different when it came to Batesville. Lots of people came out to see the mysterious tiger who escaped death, who saved a boy, and who didn’t cause any harm. The audience was in awe when the tiger came out. But something went wrong. The tiger fell to the ground. It fell dead right in the middle of the ring. It was at this moment that the tiger released his spirit.

It was said the ring master buried his loyal companion in the very spot where the South Panola High football field is today. Many people believe that the tiger’s spirit never died. But that it remained in that field. Some variations of the story gave the account that the ring master prayed this prayer, "Let not the spirit of my beloved friend be cast unto the depths of death. Lease it should die, but live on with those who find this land and uncover the secret of courage and bravery. This spirit will give strength to those who come here with a true heart to win." It was said that the ring master’s prayer was answered. The spirit of the tiger was suspended in time and space waiting for the time when it could be released to give strength.

When Coach Ricky Woods started at the school, he heard about the legend. After losing a state championship he went back to the field and pondered on the events of the game. He was determined to turn this team into a winning machine. He vowed never to quit or to give up on his guys. The tiger spirit began to stir. Out of the clear blue night sky a bolt of lighting came down onto the field where Coach Woods stood. It was followed by strong winds and cold rain. The spirit of the tiger filled the atmosphere. It engulfed the coach. From that moment the spirit of the tiger no longer laid dormant. It instead began to thrive in the hearts and spirits of the players. It was in the coach. It would follow the team as they traveled.

There is a version of the story that says that the tiger himself comes alive on game night not to be seen by anyone. But that he roams the field with the team. Some tell the story that as long as the coach believes in the tiger’s spirit that the spirit will lead the team to victory. It is the spirit of the tiger that gives the players the strength to conquer. It gives them courage and confidence.

As the team won game after game and broke numerous records, many South Panola fans truly began to believe in the legend of the spirit of the tiger. It is said that as long as the spirit of the tiger lives within the players, they will forever remain undefeated. No one really knows if the spirit of the tiger really exists, but no one can argue that there is some type of winning spirit that is with the South Panola Tigers.


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