Sports / Outdoors – 12/5/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Panolian: SPORTS – December 5, 2006

  From the 12/05/06 issue of The Panolian       
MHSAA 2006 5A State Champions!
South Panola Tigers


Meridian’s 4th quarter comeback falls short as Tigers claim 4th straight championship
     South Panola Tiger tailback Darius "Tigg" Barksdale scored two touchdowns for the Tigers in the 28-21 rout of Meridian in the state championship game Friday night. The first was an 84-yard run and this was a five-yard run.
By Myra Bean

4th Straight State Championship
6 Time State Champions

Records: 15-0 season, 60th straight win
74-1 in five season
Holds state record for consecutive wins

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The USA Today No. 11 nationally ranked South Panola Tigers made Mississippi history again by winning its fourth straight MHSAA 5A State Championship Friday night.

Two quick first quarter scores by Barksdale cousins Darius "Tigg" and Rickyus "Bud" gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead at halftime.

The Tigers may have thought they were on the way to a blowout shutout but Meridian reached deep and pulled up the strength which brought them into the championship "ring" with the "heavyweight" champs.

The Tigers took a 21-0 lead in the third quarter on a 66-yard pass from senior quarterback Leroy Diggs to senior tailback Jeramie Griffin.

Meridian scored 27 points in the second half to defeat Oak Grove in the south half championship game November 24. That thought was in the minds of many on the sidelines Friday night.

Meridian quarterback Walton Pitts hit his stride in the fourth quarter and connected for two touchdown passes over the heads and arms of South Panola defenders.

The Wildcat special teams returner Montez Moseley returned a kickoff 75 yards to cut the score 28-21.

South Panola turned the ball over on downs with 2:01 left in the game.

A Meridian sideline radio announcer on the Tiger sideline was heard saying he was anxious to see what Meridian would do in its two minute offense.

Though Meridian knew the Tiger "meat eater" defense was in the house, they did not realize the effect of a galvanized defense that took the field to preserve the win.

On three passes, the Tiger defense was there to play havoc.

On second down, Pitts had plenty of time due, to a stellar offensive line, to get rid of the ball, but the Tiger defensive secondary had all players covered which allowed senior defensive end Marlon Wilks to get in the backfield for the sack and loss of six yards.

On first down Tiger defensive back David Conner got a hand on the ball to break up the pass.

Meridian tried to convert a fourth down and 16 on a pass which was tipped by a Tiger defender and caused the turnover on downs.

South Panola took over on the Wildcat 26 and Diggs took a knee for the last 1:25 of the game and preserved the victory.

Game Recap
The Tiger offense got an excellent start to the game. They received the opening kickoff and Montez Austin downed it on the Tiger 16 yard line.

On the first play from possession, Tigg Barksdale used a big hole on his right side to run 84 yards for the touchdown, outrunning all defenders with only eight seconds off the clock.

With 11:42 left in the first quarter, sophomore David Renfroe, with Mario Nash holding, kicked the PAT for the 7-0 lead.

Meridian moved its first possession down to the Tiger 30, but was forced to turn the ball over on downs. The nearly 9,000 or so Tiger fans, of the total 14,000 people who braved the 30 degree weather, went wild.

The excitement escalated on the second Tiger possession on second and five from the Tiger 35, when Bud Barksdale broke to his right and toed the sideline for 65 yards to give South Panola a 14-0 lead with 7:26 left in the first quarter. The PAT by Renfroe was good.

On Meridian’s next possession, Tigg Barksdale sacked Pitts and caused a fumble. Tiger junior linebacker Terrance Pope picked up the ball and carried it to the Wildcat six.

The Meridian defense finally showed up and made a goal line stand. The Tigers were only able to move the ball to the half yard line. On fourth and goal, Meridian tackled Tigg Barksdale behind the line of scrimmage on the three and took over on downs.

"Offensively, we could have scored down here earlier," Tiger head coach Ricky Woods said. "I made a bad call. That was my fault. It wasn’t the only bad one I made tonight but it was a real bad one."

With 1:31 left in the second quarter, Renfroe missed a 27-yard field goal. He was perfect in PATs on the evening.

Third quarter
Two more determined than ever teams entered the field after halftime.

Meridian took the opening kickoff and drove the ball to the Tiger 10. The meat eater defense held its ground and forced the turnover on downs. It was a total Tiger defensive effort to stop that drive using Chris Strong, David Conner, Marvin Burdette, Marlon Wilks and Kevin Young. The drive took 4:50 minutes and 12 plays but the Wildcats came away scoreless.

The Tigers took the ball 90 yards in seven plays to go up 21-0. Diggs found Griffin on a slant pass and he raced 66-yards up the left side to score with 3:44 left in the third quarter.

Renfroe’s PAT gave the Tigers the 21-0 lead going into the fourth quarter using 3:54 minutes for the drive.

Fourth quarter
Meridian had the ball going into the fourth quarter and had just converted a fourth down and three on the 19 to a first down and 10 on the 13.

Wilks tackled the Wildcat runner for a two-yard loss to the 15 to bring up second and 12 from the 15.

Two incomplete passes brought up fourth down and 12. Meridian went for the conversion and this time Pitts hit his receiver for a first and goal on the one.

On the next play, Meridian’s Quadrell Martin scored on a one-yard run to avoid the shutout. With the PAT, the Tiger lead was cut 21-7 with 10:29 left in the game.

On the kickoff which had been short all evening, South Panola attempted to field the ball, but it went through the receiver’s hands. The quick Meridian defender covered the ball on the Tiger 23 yard line.

After a holding penalty put Meridian on the 35, the Wildcat offense made quick work of the short field of play and Wildcat receiver Lindsey Spinks scored on a 35-yard pass from Pitts on third and 11 with 9:11 to go in the game.

With the PAT, the Tiger lead was further cut 21-14.

The PA announcer said, "We have a ballgame."

That fired up the Tigers. Even though the Meridian short kickoff was fumbled again, the Tigers recovered it on their own 35.

A big play in this drive was a pass from Diggs to senior wide receiver Roderick Jefferson who moved the ball from the Tiger 38 to the Wildcats 28.

It took five more plays, but Tigg Barksdale scored his second touchdown of the evening on a five yard run on first and goal.

Renfroe’s PAT gave the Tigers a 28-14 lead with 5:26 remaining in the game.

Meridian was not done.

On the kickoff, Meridian’s Montrez Mosley scored on a 75-yard return with 5:14 left in the game.

"The kickoff team worried us and we had that one returned all the way back," Woods said.

With the PAT, the score stood 28-21 and the announcer repeated his earlier statement, "We have another ballgame."

The Tigers disagreed.

South Panola had a total of 479 offensive yards with 140 passing and 339 rushing. Meridian had a total of 274 yards, including 66 rushing and 208 passing.

Tigg Barksdale was the Tigers’ leading rusher with 191 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns.

Bud Barksdale had 65 yards on one carry and one touchdown.

Season leading rusher Jeramie Griffin had 43 yards on 10 carries. Griffin also had one reception for 66 yards which was a touchdown. Leroy Diggs had 40 yards on 14 carries.

Diggs completed four of five passes for 140 yards. Quin Sanford had one reception for 33 yards and Roderick Jefferson had two receptions for 41 yards.

Meridian’s Pitts threw to eight different receivers.

After the game, five year head coach Woods (74-1) smiled and accepted accolades from the team, family, coaching staff, friends and MHSAA officials. He answered all sorts of questions from all media types and then he accepted the winner’s trophy from the Farm Bureau representative. He hoisted the trophy high and then handed it off to the players who had worked so hard all year long to earn it.

Woods praised the senior class of 15 which consisted of 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, Roderick Jefferson.

"We have a great senior class," Woods said. "This is good for them, too. They went through without losing a game. That’s pretty good for them."

Jeramie Griffin admitted he was a little nervous at times.

"We came through by playing good old fashion Tiger football," Griffin said.

Quarterback Leroy Diggs talked about the injuries the team encountered this year and how he had an early season injury to overcome.

"We just had to pull together with what we had to come through," Diggs said. "We made it back down here to a state championship. It feels great."

This No. 6 championship trophy will join the other five which can be seen in the mall at South Panola High School, along with blown up photos of all six of the state championship teams.

Mabry chosen to play in All-Star game Thursday
Dakota Mabry from North Delta School has been chosen to play in the 2006 MPSA All-Star football game on Thursday, December 7, at Mississippi College in Clinton.

Mabry, a senior this year, has played football for North Delta since he was in the seventh grade. He has played many positions during those years including defensive end, defensive tackle, tight end, fullback, linebacker, and running back.

"I’m very excited to be chosen as one of the players in the All-Star game this year," said Mabry. "It means a lot to me. There aren’t very many people who get to go play in the All-Star game and when you do get chosen, it’s a big honor."

"I’m a senior and this year has been a big year for me," said Mabry. "I’ll miss football when I’m gone from North Delta. All that I could do this year was my best and hope that everyone else wanted to do the same as I did."

Mabry said that the last game was heartbreaking for him when the Green Wave lost to the Trinity Saints from Natchez, who went on to win the 2006 1A State Championship Game at Mississippi College on November 30, by defeating Briarfield 28-27.

"When that last game came to an end, it was heartbreaking," he said. I am going to miss Green Wave football when I am gone."

Mabry ended his senior football year with impressive stats. He had 891 yards in rushing on 118 carries for an average of 1.55 per carry. He had eight touchdowns, two interceptions, and three fumble recoveries. He had 84 solo tackles with a total of 102 tackles.

Dakota ended the 2006 season with a total of 1,170 All-Purpose Yards.

Dakota is the son of Jon and Kelly Mabry of Sledge.
The 2006 MPSA All-Star pre-game will start at 5:30 and kickoff is at 6 p.m. Forty players will makeup the MPSA 2006 North All-Star Football Squad with three honorary players.

Head Coach for the North Squad will be Cliff Young, head football coach from Magnolia Heights. Young and his team won the Class AAA Division II State Championship in Clinton on November 17.

Assisting Young will be Coach Herbert Davis, head coach from Pillow Academy, Coach Scott Martin, head coach from Kirk Academy, whose team was the 2006 AA State Runner-up Champions, and Coach Lance Prine, head coach from Briarfield, whose team was the 2006 A State Runner-up Champions this year.

Forty players also make up the 2006 South All-Star Football Squad with one honorary player. Head Coach for the South Squad will be Mac Barnes, head football coach from Lamar, whose team was the 2006 Class AAA Division II State Runner-up to Magnolia Heights.

Assisting Barnes will be Coach Mack Norwood from Madison Ridgeland, whose team was the 2006 Class AAA Division 1 State Runner-Up to Jackson Prep, Bo Milton from Class AA Brookhaven Academy, and David King, whose Trinity Saints won the Class A 2006 State Championship on November 30.

Both teams practiced from 8:30 – 10:30 each morning starting yesterday through Wednesday and from 2:30 – 4:30 each day through Wednesday. On Thursday, all team members and coaches will be treated to a banquet at Mississippi College.

Fans are urged to go to Clinton and support North Delta’s Dakota Mabry on Thursday night at 5:30 p.m. at Robinson Hale Stadium at Mississippi College.

Jerry named to Sporting News SEC All-Freshman team
OXFORD, Miss – Ole Miss freshmen John Jerry and Joshua Shene both picked up their second All-Freshman honors after the duo was named to the 2006 SEC All-Freshman Team by The Sporting News on Friday.

Jerry, who started all 12 games for the Rebels at left guard, led Ole Miss with 26 pancake blocks and helped pave the way for Rebel running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis to finish second in the conference with 999 rushing yards, which also ranks fourth all-time in Ole Miss history.

Shene was just as outstanding, making 14-of-17 field goals on the season, good for 82 percent. Shene connected on a career-long of 52 yards versus Northwestern State and made all 20 of his PATs on the season.

Both Jerry and Shene were named second team Freshmen All-America by earlier in the week. They joined Rebel freshmen Greg Hardy (defensive end) and Marcus Tillman (defensive tackle), who picked up first team Freshman All-America honors by

Good first buck triggers memories

By Robert Neill

A neighbor lady called me a week or so ago to see if I’d seen a head; or rather, to see if one of our Labradors had showed up with an extra head. She left a message, since we were out grandparenting, and I didn’t get it until late that night.

The next morning I had planned on getting up and going deer hunting, so I hit the hay. Got up early, made Slung Coffee, dressed for the deer stand, poured a big keep-it-warm mug of Slung Coffee, slung my 30/06, and walked out the door. I was halfway to my stand when I remembered her message.

"It isn’t a trophy head, or anything like that," she had said, "but it’s Tyler’s first pretty good buck, a six point, and he was going to make a skull mount of it. He had put it on a fire ant mound in the back yard to be cleaned, placed a big bucket over it, and anchored the bucket with bricks on top and around the side.

If you see a deer head around your yard or the Swimming Hole, could you call Tyler to come get it?"

What she had not actually said, but politely implied, was that Cessna and Piper (or as Cuddin Will calls them, "Hyper & Piper") were visiting while our new grandson was getting born and settled in at home, and there are very few things that smell good to eat that a couple of large Labs can’t figure a way to get to, bricks or no bricks. Oh, she wasn’t blaming us, or our granddogs, atall: she was just covering all the bases.

There are a dozen large dogs in the near vicinity of Brownspur, so Ann had a lot of calls to make. On the other hand, the Swimming Hole seems to be the favorite congregating place for the present-day Brownspur Hounds, so if Hyper, Piper, Marma-Dee, Hunter, Coal, or any of the others had absconded with the missing head, odds were that it had made a pass by the Swimming Hole and might still be in the pasture thereabouts.

You know what? I never made it to the stand that morning.

I remembered my own First Good Buck, an eight point that I killed with a heart shot on Woodstock Island when I was 12.

We generally stayed at deer camp a week, so when the weather warmed up, we had to butcher the deer, and Big Robert stowed the head up on top of an old truck body next to the cabin. The next morning it was gone, and I refused to go to the woods.

Big Robert, Uncle Sam, and I spent a couple of hours going round and round in the wheat field surrounding the camphouse, until Daddy stumbled upon my head. It made a great skull mount, and I still have it, nearly a half century later.

Adam’s First Good Buck was a nice eight point and I was sitting on the log with him, coaching when he shot at the running buck. When a deer is running through a willow brake, I counsel swinging ahead of the buck, stopping at the next clearing, and pulling the trigger when one sees horns coming into the scope. Works for me.

But I had not factored in 26 years difference in reflexes. Instead of hitting the deer in the neck, the boy’s shot hit the buck in the antlers!

The impact shattered the deer’s skull, so he hit the ground right there, but it took me and his Uncle Beau a long time to find the offside antler, which went 50 feet. It also made a great mount.

I’ve been lucky enough to be present at many First Good Bucks: David Steen, Robert The Rookie, The Mick, Brer Beau, Cuddin Will, Napalm Morgan, most of The Jakes, and many others. There’s something about that First Good Buck.

I went back home, put my rifle up, refilled my Slung Coffee mug, and headed for the Swimming Hole. I know neighbor Beverly must have wondered what a camo-clad man was doing walking slowly along her side of the pasture fence early in the morning.

When I didn’t see the head around the Swimming Hole, I hunted the roadside ditch, the pasture, the yard, the High Place, the bonfire place, the Mammy Grudge ditchbank, and down in the Mammy Grudge herself. Nary a head did I find, and I called to report that.

Tyler found it the next day, and it was still suitable for a skull mount. Who carried it off? Who knows? Maybe a tame dog, maybe a pack of coyotes. The important thing is, he’s getting a skull mount of his First Good Buck, and it’s maybe a little more special now, because of the extra adventure. My First Good Buck is.

Son, Phillip, reports from Georgia Dome

By William Correro

Hello from Atlanta! This is Phillip reporting for my dad who’s resting from the drive over tonight. Mom did most of the driving in the rain when we left though. The Hyatt is great and we’re on the 22nd floor and the view is cool!

This is the SEC headquarters hotel for the ‘SHIP (Championship Game). Tomorrow morning dad’s CBS friends are showing us the TV setup at the Georgia Dome for Saturday’s national broadcast. It’s awesome that my dad has the opportunity to control a game broadcast as big as this!

It’s crazy to think how many people will be watching this game and still be groaning about the TV time outs even though my dad is doing it better than any NFL coordinator. But it does run smoothly.

Tomorrow we will attend the Coaches’ Luncheon with Coach House Nutt (Arkansas) and Coach Urban Meyer (Florida). Then we will attend the Official’s Dinner and eat nice food (Yesss!). Saturday we’ll do some cool things like going to Fan Fair and then go to the game which will be awesome!
Sunday we will eat breakfast at the Sundial, a restaurant on top of the Peachtree Plaza (tallest building in Atlanta). Then it’s back home and another week of school (annoyed grunt). Bye!

He’ll be a good writer if he keeps at it. Richard and Julie are looking for the pool now, and I was thinking coming in that it was less than a week ago that I was doing 80 through here on I-85 trying to get Steve Beuerlein, another of my CBS friends, and me to the airport in time for out flights. Mine didn’t leave until 11:00 so I had time and I heard later they both made theirs.

Since it was an ACC crew I decided to go directly to Sanford Stadium instead of the hotel with the rest of the crew. Besides, these "foreign" crews typically don’t want us in their pre-game meeting. I learned hanging with CBS was a better deal for getting out of town since they have a police escort to get to the highway after the game instead of just to the hotel. It was fun being the "wheel man" for once.

Doing two games in two days from Little Rock to Athens was really fun but after two 20-hour days it took all day Sunday to recover. It was two really good games and I was very fortunate to be called on to work them.

That will be all from Atlanta this time. We’ll talk about everything next time.

Way to go South Panola! Look up "Dynasty" in Webster’s and you’ll see the Tigers with the caption: "University of South Panola."

See you next week.


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