Sports / Outdoors – 12/19/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Panolian: SPORTS – December 19, 2006

  From the 12/19/06 issue of The Panolian       

National Combine selects North Panola players to participate
     Selected to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Combine January 4-6 are (left to right) Templeton Hardy, defensive lineman and Bruce Wilbourn, wide receiver.
By Myra Bean

Two North Panola junior football players will have a chance to showcase their talent before national scouts.

Bruce Wilbourn, wide receiver, and Templeton Hardy, defensive tackle, have been invited to participate in the U.S. Army All-American combine to be held the week prior to the All-American Bowl game on January 6.

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The combine will showcase the talents of 500 of the top juniors in the country in all positions and is held in conjunction with the U.S. Army All-American game January 4 through 6.

Wilbourn, 6’1", 190 pounds, said he was shocked when head coach Vincent Johnson told him about the invitation to participate.

"I never thought I would do something like that," he said.

Wilbourn was one of the main receivers for North Panola and had 38 receptions for 12 touchdowns. He rushed for one touchdown.

He averaged 18.3 yards per reception and had a total of 997 all-purpose yards. On punt returns he averaged 21.4 yards per return. On kickoff returns, he averaged 26 yards per return.

Johnson described Wilbourn as humble and very physical.

"He is blessed with the ability to run, jump and think exceptionally well – some of the major attributes of being an athlete," Johnson said.

Since Johnson told Wilbourn about his participation in the combine, Johnson said Wilbourn has been working very hard with the desire to be the best.

"I have been very impressed with his athletic skills and ability," Johnson said. "He has been working unbelievably hard."

Johnson did not become head coach of North Panola until July of this year and did not know the players when he arrived.

Johnson said Wilbourn exceeded his expectations on the football field this past season.

"Many times we could lean on him and he was not arrogant with it," Johnson said. "He was very humble."

Johnson recalled a couple of games when Wilbourn was injured, but still showed up to play.

Wilbourn said he feels ready for the combine and is doing what he has to do to get prepared. That includes practicing twice a day, during school and afterwards working in the weightroom getting stronger.

"I have been working on my footwork," he said. Wilbourn runs a 4.5 second 40-yard dash.

"Coach said it could be better if I ran right," Wilbourn said, laughing.

Wilbourn looks forward to seeing how he ranks with the rest of the high school players who hail from 40 states.

"I will get a first hand look at how some of the best players perform," he said.

Wilbourn likes being ranked as one of the top 500 juniors in the nation, but said it is a lot of hard work.

Another goal of Wilbourn’s on his first trip to San Antonio is to help his local team.

"I hope the scouts will see we have a lot of good athletes at this school," he said. "Maybe they will come down and watch some of our up and coming athletes."

Hardy is a 6’4", 300-pound defensive lineman who also played on the offensive line for North Panola. He registered 105 solo tackles this year and 43 assists. He had 28 tackles for loss yards.

Hardy had nine sacks on the season and returned an interception for a touchdown. He caused three fumbles and recovered four.

Hardy said he was excited to be picked to participate in the combine, but at first did not know what that meant.

"My first thought was I was real happy," Hardy said. "It’s the first time I ever did something like this. Now to go to a big place I have never been before, I was real excited."

Hardy looks forward to participating in the Combine and getting his name out for the colleges to see.

"This will be a good chance for me to go somewhere and make it big," Hardy said.

According to Hardy, he hopes to learn some new defensive moves to help him make more tackles for the Cougar defense next year. As for the offense, he hopes to learn more blocking moves so he can screen the running back to make more touchdowns.
His goals include leaving Como, going to a bigger place and making it big.

"So I can give back to the community," Hardy said.
Johnson described Hardy as "very physical."

"The sky’s the limit on how strong he could be," Johnson said. "He hasn’t tapped into his potential yet."

Hardy has learned a lot, according to Johnson, and is getting stronger.

"He will be a whole lot better than what he was last year," Johnson added. "He’s naturally strong at 300 pounds. That’s scary. He’s a lineman that runs the 40 in less than five seconds. He made tackles down the line of scrimmage like a linebacker."

Johnson has his own hopes for these two players at the Combine.

He hopes they will develop more leadership skills. With Wilbourn on offense and Hardy on defense, Johnson hopes they will be able to implement their knowledge into the Cougar football scheme.

"They will be in the midst of the best of the best athletes," Johnson said. "They will go against athletes of the same or better skills and they will see where they stand with the best in the country."
According to Johnson, the combine players getting a chance to see the best 80 players on the field will be incentive for them to play harder.

On hand to evaluate athletes at the Combine will be Tom Lemming, the nation’s most respected recruiting analyst, and , according to the U.S. Army All American Bowl website.

Also all NCAA Division 1-A coaches will have access to testing information and performance analysis.

"The U.S. Army National Combine was created so athletes can prove themselves to a national audience," according to the website. "This event will allow the nation’s top recruiting analysts and scouts a first look on who will be populating their top 100 lists."

The combine is the only national combined modeled after the NFL combine in Indianapolis. Created and designed by NFL and collegiate coaches, the National Combine gives the nation’s top underclassmen the opportunity to showcase their football skills and earn national recognition among football’s most elite recruiting experts and analysts.

The event consists of traditional combine and football skills testing, seminar and break-out sessions focusing on leadership, team-building and the college-recruiting process.

A list of areas to be tested are height, weight, wingspan, reach, bench press (optional), vertical jump, pro-agility and 40-yard dash.

One other Mississippi participant is Triveon Lawrence, running back of Ocean Springs.

"I am excited to get the chance to watch some of the best in the nation play high school football and to see how my guys do in situations like that," Johnson said.

Northern football fans cannot be compared to SEC

By William Correro

A cousin just sent me a funny e-mail that compares football in the north and in the south. It has to be many years old but there are some almost truisms in it.

What’s amazing about it is how the fans are still feverishly anticipating their team’s bowl games while the others who aren’t ?bowling? are searching the Internet like a bloodhound for inside information on their team’s recruiting.

You just have to be down here in real football country to appreciate it. I know the Ohio State and Michigan faithful are just as anxious but it’s nothing compared to my Florida alum cousin and the other hundreds of thousands. Just nothing like football especially in the Southeastern Conference.

I know everyone has gotten excited at some program or game situation on TV and found themselves shouting at the screen like there was some way communication with the other side was possible. I was sort of watching at the Saints – Dallas game a week or so ago and the very thing happened to me.

I heard Al Michaels, who is one of the greatest play by play people around, getting excited about a call on the field. It seems the Cowboys had the ball deep in Saints territory on a 4th down and five yards to go.

The Cowboys were going to go for the 1st down when a Saints’ D lineman jumped early across the line and made contact with a Dallas player. Whistles and flags later, the officials enforced the five-yard penalty on New Orleans.

Then Gerald Austin, the Referee, looked over at the sideline announced the penalty for offsides and with some hesitation continued with the following down would be 4th and very short. Michaels and John Madden both were dumb-founded at how he could guess at such a short distance in such a critical situation.

I’m yelling at the TV that he just looked at the tape, you idiot, and knew without a doubt. I don’t know how the NFL does this but in high school and even up to the SEC we mark the exact halfway point in the ten-yard chains with some tape wrapped around the chain right at five yards from either rod at the ends.

That way the Referee and the Head Linesman, who has charge of the chains during the game, can do a simple bit of communication to determine if a 1st down is earned on a penalty. In this case, the down marker that is lined with the front edge of the ball, was just about 4 inches behind the tape.

The Linesman will always know exactly where it is in relation to the tape marker on any play when it’s close. If you have a five-yard dead ball foul like this, all he does is signal to the Referee that the penalty will not give the offended team a first down.

You can’t move the chains and measure anything because the ball has been moved around on the field anyway. So all he does is point backward and hold up the distance with his fingers. And it’s exact too.

Later on in the game, someone got the word to Al and John how that is done and they understood then. (Oh yeah…)

As Christmas rapidly approaches in addition to all the other Holidays, please remember the Reason for this Season and do as He would do. Travel safe.

Three Kings of Orey and Tar remains a favorite Christmas song
Our Choir just sang our Christmas (not Holiday!) Cantata and did a beautiful job of it. This one was a little more special for Betsy and myself, because our brand new grandson, Sean Robert Irwin (or "Sir" – when you monogram, the last initial goes in the middle) got his first acting job in it, playing the Baby Jesus (not Holiday Child). Sir sat in his mother’s lap right up front, and seemed to enjoy the whole program.

Cantatas at this time of year always bring back memories, and indeed, my first memory of a Christmas Cantata goes back to my Presbyterian boyhood, when someone had arranged a big bright Star to travel on a wire from the balcony to over the altar.

As the Star traveled, the Choir sang a version of "We Three Kings of Orey & Tar" and, lo and behold, here came the Three Kings – all Wise Men, actually – down the aisle in costume, bearing gifts and singing the middle solo verses. Big Dave Bradham, Coach McGahey, and Big George Walker were the Three Kings, and the whole thing was pretty magnificent to a youngster who liked to sing hisownself, even then.

I’ve sung in Choirs in three different denominations and six different churches for nearly half a century, and that covers a lot of Christmas (not Holiday) Cantatas, plus many Christmas (not Holiday) Caroling excursions. The one I started out to tell you about today was several years ago with a Choir of maybe fifty voices, and a cast of dozens of shepherds, children, adorers, hangers-on, and of course, Three Kings of Orey & Tar, complete with costumes befitting Kings who are Wise Men – which ain’t always the case, you must understand, as even the Bible proclaims.

One Wise Man, whom I took to be the King of somewhere like Siberia, had on a fur top hat – I mean, one any hunter would love to have on a cold day in the woods! The King didn’t have it pulled down over his ears, but it stuck up high enough to have been done thataway, if the church had been cold that night.

Another Wise Man had on a gold and red bejeweled turban-looking outfit on his head that stuck up pretty high, too.

We ain’t got many Kings (Wise Men, either) around Brownspur these days, but if one came by, I believe I could spot him real quick because of the height of his headgear.

But the third Wise Man, obviously Oriental, took the hat cake!

His crown was made from peacock-looking feathers that stuck up four feet above his head in a fan-like arrangement that couldn’t have fit, coming down the aisle on a short man. All Three Kings were adorned in robes matching their crowns, and from the Choir’s viewpoint they were magnificent marching down the aisle with their entourages.

As we sang, they all came up onto the stage before us bearing their gifts, which they then presented to the Baby Jesus (not Holiday Child), after which they knelt and worshipped Him.

I could tell that I belonged in the Choir on future Cantatas, since my knees don’t do atall well when kneeling is called for. I wished my knees operated like those Wise Men’s did!

The Choir then hit the short rows – I mean, the rafters shook as we approached the musical finale of the evening! Toward the ending, the entire assemblage on-stage rose to praise Christ, the Newborn King!

Including the Three Kings of Orey & Tar, who were positioned center stage, right in front of the Choir. The Wise Men stood erect and lifted their arms in worship of the Christ Child (not Holiday Child). It was a glorious moment.

It was also a grand argument for memorizing Christmas Cantatas: for with the King of the Orient’s magnificent feathered crown, suddenly two-thirds of the Choir was shielded from seeing the Choir Director, just before the music climaxed!

The night before at Dress Rehearsal, it had been rather warm, and the Wise Men had shed their headgear long before the finale. We hadn’t practiced this part.

Well-trained Choirs can generally make it fine without a Director, though we Directors try to keep that a secret. The Cantata Choir swept right along and nailed the ending of the program, the unseen Director notwithstanding.

I’d venture to say that the next time the King of the Orient donned his Crown for a Cantata, he’d look plucked.

Y’all sing right along, and have yourselves a Merry Christmas 2006!

Tigers and Cougars garner post season honors

     The Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC)/ 5A top players and coach include (left to right) South Panola’s Chris Strong, defensive player of the year; Ricky Woods, coach of the year; and Jeramie Griffin, offensive player of the year.
By Myra Bean

Postseason football honors are on the horizon and South Panola juniors and seniors are receiving some recognition.

Announced Sunday by The Clarion-Ledger, Chris Strong was voted this year’s Mr. Football 2006 for the state of Mississippi.

Strong is the first player from South Panola to be chosen in the 30-year history of the Mr. Football. (See complete story on A1.)

The Mississippi Association of Coaches handed off the selection of its All-State team to . is home to the Mississippi Association of Coaches/ All-State team, the only team to recognize players from across the state for each category.

South Panola head coach Ricky Woods was chosen the 5A coach of the year. Strong was named the defensive player of the year and fullback Jeramie Griffin was chosen the offensive player of the year.

The Clarion-Ledger also released its All-State first and second teams and six South Panola players made that prestigious list: first team offense running back Griffin, linebacker Strong, linebacker Kevin Young, defensive back Darius "Tigg" Barksdale; second team offense quarterback Leroy Diggs and offensive lineman Cameron Wagner.

On the MAC/ All-State team (see page B3 for complete list) were first team offense Griffin, Wagner and offensive lineman Hunter Bailey; first team defense Young and Barksdale.

Second team offense included wide receiver Roderick Jefferson and offensive lineman Jonathan Wilson.

In 3A North Panola players garnered All-District awards. Division 3-3A All Division Defense Team include junior defensive back Tavoris "Trey" Burdette-Tucker and senior punter Perry Trammell. On offense are junior offensive lineman Templeton Hardy and junior wide receiver Bruce Wilbourn.

Honorable mentions on defense are sophomore Tyrus Mack, senior Denard Presley, juniors Kenny Jones and Cortez Hibbler. Offensive honorable mentions include senior Jarvis Taylor, juniors Marrico Tolliver and Michael Johnson.

2006 MAC/
All-State teams

Offensive Player of the Year:
     FB Jeramie Griffin, South Panola
     6-0/225, Senior

Defensive Player of the Year:
     LB Chris Strong, South Panola
     6-3/250, Senior

Coach of the Year:
     Ricky Woods, South Panola

Offensive Player of the Year:
     QB Drexler Johnson, Wayne County
     6-0/180 Senior

Defensive Player of the Year:
     LB Jonathan Frink, Oxford,
     6-1/220, Senior

Coach of the Year:
     Marcus Boyles, Wayne County

Offensive Player of the Year:
     RB Luther Edwards, Yazoo County
     5-8/200 Senior

Defensive Player of the Year:
     LB, Gary Rogers, Franklin County
     6-0/245 Senior

Coach of the Year:
     Grady McCluskey, Franklin County

Offensive Player of the Year:
     RB Bradford Blackmon, St. Andrew’s
     5-9/165, Senior

Defensive Player of the Year:
     LB Canaan Griffin, Baldwyn,
     5-10/190, Senior

Coach of the Year:
     Leslie Peters, East Marion

Offensive Player of the Year:
     RB, Darnell Taylor, Mound Bayou
     5-9/170, Junior

Defensive Player of the Year:
     LB Jason Smith, East Webster
     5-9/205, Senior

Coach of the Year:
     Jaris Patrick, Puckett

MAC/ All-State Team
1st Team Offense
QB Kirk Lance Oak Grove 6-0/175 Sr.
RB Josh Brumfield Northwest Rankin 5-8/195 Sr.
RB Anton Taylor Provine 5-10/200 Sr.
FB Jeramie Griffin South Panola 6-0/225 Sr.
WR Taiwan Easterling Oak Grove 5-11/195 Sr.
WR Lindsey Spinks Meridian 5-10/160 Sr.
TE Jimmie Ellis Jim Hill 6-0/200 Sr.
C Chad Roberson Brandon 6-1/265 Sr.
OT Cory Bailey Northwest Rankin 6-5/270 Sr.
OT Hunter Bailey South Panola 6-1/310 Sr.
OG Chaz Ramsey Madison Central 6-4/275 Sr.
OG Cameron Wagner South Panola 5-10/315 Jr.
K Parker Ware Northwest Rankin 5-11/160 Sr.

1st Team Defense
DT Kevin Pierce Olive Branch 5-11/225 Sr.
DT Malcolm Tatum Moss Point 6-2/250 Sr.
DE Justin Darden Meridian 5-11/235 Sr.
DE Cortez Myles Madison Central 6-3/260 Sr.
ILB Brannan Byrd George County 6-0, 215 Sr.
ILB Corey Ray Clinton 5-11/225 Sr.
OLB K.J. Wright Olive Branch 6-4/200 Sr.
OLB Kevin Young South Panola 5-11/190 Sr.
SS Demario Davis Brandon 6-2/215 Sr.
SS Le’Marcus Gibson Harrison Central 6-0/195 Sr.
FS Darius Barksdale South Panola 6-1/190 Jr.
CB Dominick Tollivar Moss Point 5-7/155 Jr.
CB Jeremy Vaughn Starkville 5-9/170 Sr.
P Eric Richards Warren Central 6-2/200 Sr.
KR Michael Wright Olive Branch 5-10/160 Sr.
KR Alonzo Lawrence George County 6-1/175 Jr.

2nd Team Offense
QB Cannon Smith Olive Branch 6-0/170 Sr.
RB Meco Brown Moss Point 5-5/170 Jr.
RB Patrick Durr Brandon 5-10/160 So.
FB Pat Harrison Madison Central 6-0/209 Sr.
WR Roderick Jefferson South Panola 6-5/205 Sr.
WR Michael Outlaw Starkville 511/180 Sr.
TE Kevin Helms Gulfport 6-3/205 Sr.
C Jonathan Wilson South Panola 6-0/280 Jr.
OT Devin Eubanks George County 6-3/285 Sr.
OT Michael Lacy Gulfport 6-6/310 Jr.
OG Roosevelt Branch Gulfport 6-1/250 Sr.
OG Michael Bufkin Clinton 6-3/285 Sr.
K Eric Richards Warren Central 6-2/200 Sr.

2nd Team Defense
DT Damien Flowers Northwest Rankin 5-11/260 Sr.
DT Kethon Ransom Natchez 6-3/275 Sr.
DE Brandon Miller Grenada 5-11/235 Sr.
DE Willie Packer Moss Point 6-2/250 Jr.
ILB Sylvester Hemphill Olive Branch 5-11/220 Jr.
ILB Rodney Warren Meridian 5-11/260 Sr.
OLB Damon Robinson Greenville-Weston 6-1/205 Sr.
OLB Chris Zinn Olive Branch 6-2/240 Sr.
SS Jeremy Hargrove Natchez 5-8/175 Sr.
FS Maurice Singleton Grenada 5-10/170 Sr.
FS Charez Virgil Oak Grove 5-10/165 Jr.
CB Jared Crain Brandon 5-11/165 Sr.
CB Alonzo Lawrence George County 6-1/175 Jr.
P Parker Ware Northwest Rankin 5-11/160 Sr.
ND goes on break after busy week
By Myra Bean

North Delta finished a whirlwind week of basketball with a game against Clarksdale Lee last night, but the score was not available at press time.

The Green Wave hosted Tunica Thursday and Bayou in district action Friday. Saturday, the Green Wave traveled to Marks to take on Delta Academy in non-conference action.

The junior high girls defeated Strider 25-24. The junior boys won over Strider 37-6.

The varsity Lady Waves lost to Strider 40-8. The varsity Green Waves won 49-24 over Strider.

Against Bayou, the seventh grade girls won 17-4. The junior high Lady Waves defeated Bayou 32-20.

The junior high boys also won 42-25.

Against Delta Academy Saturday afternoon, Delta won both varsity games. The North Delta boys lost 62-42 and the girls lost 44-21.

Against Delta Jon Moore was the game high scorer with 16 points.

The junior high girls won 22-20 on a buzzer beater shot by Linzey Hebert, her only two points of the evening. Sara Waldrip led in scoring with 9 points, followed by Madison Greenlee with 6 points. They are 13-8 overall.

The seventh grade girls are 11-0 following a 20-0 shutout of Delta.

The teams will be off until after the holiday break. The varsity return to action participating in the Kirk Academy Invitational Tournament January 2 through 6.

North Delta girls play January 3 at 3 p.m. followed by the boys at 4:15 p.m.

Quistors overpower Cougar teams
By Myra Bean

North Panola had a busy week of basketball. Wednesday, they played Ray Brooks in a make up game and Friday, they hosted Olive Branch in non district action.

The girls lost to Ray Brooks 48-46 in overtime. The score was tied at 39 at the end of regulation.

LaTorya Hill led the Lady Cougars in scoring with 12 points.

Hill also led the Lady Cougars in scoring with 10 points in the 55-37 loss to Olive Branch.

The Lady Cougars led 14-10 after the first quarter with Olive Branch. Olive Branch tied the game at 14 and never looked back. At the half, the Lady Quistors led 21-18.

North Panola tied the game at 26 with 4:47 left in the third quarter on a Hill offensive rebound and field goal and again at 28.

The last time the game was tied at 30 with 3:15 left to go in the third on a Gernisha Edwards field goal.

After that the Lady Quistors turned up the heat and ran off with the game.

The Cougars lost to Ray Brooks 65-44 and to Olive Branch 72-33.

No Cougar scored in double figures against Olive Branch.

The Cougars will play their last game before the holidays tonight at Amanda Elzy beginning at 5 p.m.
They will resume action January 2 hosting Independence beginning at 6 p.m.

Tigers lose in sweep to Olive Branch
By Myra Bean

The South Panola basketball teams hosted Olive Branch in district action Thursday night.

Olive Branch left with a clean sweep. The ninth grade Quistors defeated South Panola 34-29.

Through the first half the teams were neck-and-neck. South Panola started off with the lead. Olive Branch tied the game at eight going into the second quarter. There were four ties and two lead changes in that quarter.

Olive Branch led at the half 18-16. Then the Quistors pulled away and led by as many as nine points with 4:27 left in the game.

Lady Tigers
In the ladies game, the game was tied at season early on, but Olive Branch had a 13-6 first quarter lead and led 22-14 at halftime.

The Lady Tigers caught the Lady Quistors by surprise with the shooting ability of Sabrina Townsend. Her field goals and free throw shooting erased that deficit and cut the lead 24-23 on an offensive rebound and field goal by Skylar Barnes.

On a steal by Vetorra Cole and assist to Townsend for a field goal with 3:25 left in the third quarter, the lady Tigers enjoyed a one point lead 27-26. Cole’s field goal with 2:56 on the clock, gave the Lady Tigers a 29-26 lead.

Olive Branch fought back by the end of the quarter and led 34-30. The Lady Quistors kept chipping away at the Lady Tigers and eventually won 56-45.
The Lady Tigers are 6-7 overall and 1-1 in district action.

The Tigers could not seem to get a hand on the Quistors and fell 63-41.

Tiger mistakes which resulted in turnovers found South Panola down 12-2 with 5:35 left in the first quarter. The Quistor lead was 17-9 at the end of the quarter.

It did not get much better for the Tigers in the second quarter and the Quistors led by 10 at halftime 34-24.

The Tigers are 6-7 overall and 0-2 in district action.
South Panola is on holiday break and will resume regular action by hosting non-district foe Grenada in two games January 9 beginning at 6 p.m.


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