Sports / Outdoors – 1/16/2007

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Panolian: SPORTS – January 16, 2007

  From the 01/16/07 issue of The Panolian   

Ole Miss hires a defensive coordinator
OXFORD – Ole Miss head football coach Ed Orgeron announced Monday that veteran defensive coordinator John Thompson will be joining his Rebel coaching staff in that same capacity.

Orgeron has been his own defensive coordinator during his first two years as head coach at Ole Miss.

The appointment is pending approval of the Board of Trustees, State Institutions of Higher Learning.

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"Our relationship goes back to 1983 when I was a player at Northwestern (La.) State and he was the defensive coordinator," Orgeron said, also noting that he then worked as a graduate assistant under Thompson in 1984.

"He’s been a successful defensive coordinator in the Southeastern Conference and is highly respected by his peers," Orgeron said. "He brings energy and a vast knowledge to our staff, and I’m happy to have John and his family joining Ole Miss."

Thompson, 51, is joining Ole Miss from his alma mater, the University of Central Arkansas, where he has been the athletics director since last May. Thompson was hired last year to lead the UCA athletic program in its first year as an NCAA Division I program. UCA moved to Division I and joined the Southland Conference on July 1, 2006. Prior to accepting the athletics director position, Thompson had enjoyed a 24-year coaching career.
"I am very thankful to UCA and to Ole Miss for this opportunity," Thompson said. "I’ve enjoyed this job (athletics director) very much, and I’m excited about joining Coach Orgeron at Ole Miss. I believe we can do great things there.

Ole Miss has a great tradition and I’m honored to be able to join their team there and be a part of it."

"John Thompson was an excellent athletic director and I hate to see him leave UCA," said UCA President Lu Hardin. "However, this is an extraordinary opportunity and I am personally happy for Coach Thompson."

Recognized as a top defensive mind, Thompson brings to Ole Miss experience from five Southeastern Conference schools ? Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, LSU and South Carolina. He also served two years (2003-04) as head coach at East Carolina University. While he was with the Pirates, he coached three first-team All-Conference USA players and had seven players chosen to the Freshman All-Conference team.

As a defensive coordinator, Thompson’s units led their respective conferences in total defense three different times. Twenty-eight of his defensive players were drafted or signed with National Football League teams, 40 earned all-conference honors, five were named All-America, and one — former Northwestern State linebacker Gary Reasons — has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Thompson served as the defensive coordinator at Florida, Arkansas, LSU, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State, and co-defensive coordinator at South Carolina.

A native of Forrest City, Ark., Thompson began his coaching career in the high school ranks in 1977 while pursuing his bachelor’s degree at UCA. He graduated from UCA in 1978 and continued to coach high school football until moving on to the college ranks at the University of Arkansas as a graduate assistant for then-head coach Lou Holtz in 1982.

He was the mastermind behind the dominant Southern Mississippi defense of the mid-1990s as he took over as defensive coordinator for the Golden Eagles in 1992 and was given the additional title of assistant head coach in 1993. He remained with that program until 1998. Along the way, Southern Miss won or shared two Conference USA titles, ranked among the top 25 nationally in scoring defense twice and made two bowl appearances.

He had comparable accomplishments in 1999 as defensive coordinator at Memphis as his Tiger defense ranked 11th nationally in scoring defense and 20th in total defense.

In December, 1999, Thompson made his move to the SEC when he was named Nick Saban’s first defensive coordinator at LSU. Afforded with the opportunity to move back to his home state, Thompson was co-defensive coordinator at Arkansas in 2000, as the Razorbacks were second in the nation in pass defense and led the SEC in both pass defense and total defense. As the sole defensive coordinator in 2001, Thompson helped lead Arkansas to the 2002 Cotton Bowl.

Thompson was appointed defensive coordinator at Florida in 2002 and the Gators advanced to the Outback Bowl against Michigan.

Allowing just 162.4 passing yards per game, his Florida pass defense ranked seventh in the nation and was the best by a Gator team since 1989.

Thompson’s playing career includes time as a prep quarterback at Forrest City High School and two seasons as a defensive back at Central Arkansas. Thompson and his wife, Charleen, have two sons, Cabe and Hays.

Tiger comeback too late
By Myra Bean

South Panola girls and boys teams are still scratching their heads over what happened last week in basketball action.

Both teams lost to Grenada and Olive Branch Tuesday and Friday, respectively.

Grenada was a non-district game. The games against Olive Branch were a rematch from December 14 district games in which Olive Branch won both.

The Tiger boys took Olive Branch to the wire but fell 53-51 Friday night.

Olive Branch led 19-11 at the end of the first quarter. Both teams scored 15 points in the second quarter for a 34-26 Olive Branch halftime lead.

South Panola kept chipping away. Both teams struggled with scoring in the third quarter. Olive Branch outscored the Tigers 9-5 for a 43-31 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Tigers turned up the heat in the fourth quarter. South Panola scored 20 points and allowed Olive Branch 10 to erase the lead and try for the lead.

"They couldn’t stop the bleed," head coach Charlie Howard said. "We just went down and kept scoring. We had a chance to tie or win the game, but they defended us well and we couldn’t get it off. It was a great ball game to watch."

Tiger Antonio Allen was the game’s high scorer with 23 points. Also scoring in double figures for South Panola was Nicholas Johnson, 10 points.

South Panola lost to Grenada 40-30 Tuesday night. All the quarters were fairly low scoring for both teams. South Panola only scored in double figures the fourth quarter with 12 points.

Grenada led 5-4 at the end of the first quarter. At the half, Grenada led 16-11.

The second half went in the same vein. Grenada mustered 17 points in the third and held South Panola seven.

Allen was the only Tiger to score in double figures with 10 points.

Lady Tigers
Tuesday against Grenada, the Lady Tigers had the lead going into halftime 23-19, but a 20 point third quarter by Grenada sealed South Panola’s fate.

South Panola could only muster 10 points in the third quarter and 10 in the fourth quarter. Grenada scored 10 in the fourth quarter to hold on for the win.

Sabrina Townsend led the Lady Tigers in scoring with 13 points, followed by Vetorra Cole with 8 points.

Against Olive Branch, the Lady Tigers ran neck and neck with them throughout the first quarter. At the end of the first, the game was tied at nine.

Olive Branch used the second quarter to score 20 points and pull away from the Lady Tigers.

Olive Branch outscored South Panola 22-11 in the second half for the win.

Tenisha Mitchell led the Lady Tigers with 11 points.

The Tigers will start a four-game home stand beginning tonight. The Tigers will host Southaven in district action beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, they will host J.Z. George in non-district action beginning at 6 p.m.

January 23, South Panola will host Horn Lake in district action beginning at 4 p.m. On January 26, Charleston will be in Batesville for non-conference action beginning at 5 p.m.

Morris’ death marks return to work

By Myra Bean

I had toe surgery over the Christmas holidays and am just returning to work. I won’t say fulltime because that is not the case.

I practically had to beg my doctor to allow me to come back to work with a long list of restrictions including leg in restful position at the office and little to no walking unless absolutely necessary.

So if I am not at the basketball games, you know why. I do not have clearance to resume that part of my duties.

Leonard Morris
Returning in the midst of the loss of state representative Leonard Morris put a damper on the excitement of coming back.

Incidentally, Leonard took the photo of me that I run with my column. A few years ago when the Panola Partnership started the mixers, we were at the Amerihost Hotel. The Panolian had just started using digital cameras and he wanted to see how they worked. He took the camera from me and shot this photo. It is about the only one that I have taken that I actually like of myself.

It may be a real long time now before I replace that photo.

Leonard had this sense of humor when people got long-winded at some events that he had to attend. I would sit and listen to him make little comments about what people said. They were never negative comments to cut people down, but when you attend a lot of events and there is always a speaker, these events can get tedious sometimes.

The last time we spoke he gave me a heads up about some property some of my family owned. He first went in the hospital the day I had my surgery. Under the influence of pain medicines, I did not hear about that until Christmas Eve and called his wife Belinda to see if that was "our" Leonard who was that sick. I never realized I would never see or speak to him again.

To the Morris family, we feel your loss.

At home
It was kind of interesting being at home that long, lying on the sofa during the week. The main thing is there is nothing, I repeat nothing, worth watching in daytime television.

I don’t do the soap opera thing, day or night. Court shows should be disallowed. Public television became my best friend.

I even watched Martha Stewart. That is funny because believe me I am probably the most non-domestic type you will meet.

I could care less about growing flowers and gardens and cooking from a recipe, especially recipes which requires one to follow specific directions. I am good with a pinch of this and a pinch of that.

As much as Oprah may have good ideas, some of her guests leave people questioning her intelligence. But everybody marches to his/her own tune.

I am amazed as the information people throw out about raising children. Nobody ever tells anyone that you can’t wait until a child gets a teenager to try to raise them. Saying no to a child should start when they first start noticing the world around them and start reaching for items we know will hurt them. This happens around the three to six month age area. Not when the terrible twos stage hits and stays for a couple of years.

Therefore, parents do not have to feel guilty when they tell a child they cannot afford an expensive toy or gee-gaw and the child will not feel as if he/she will just die if he/she doesn’t get exactly what is asked for.

Oh well, I digressed.

So I read a lot and worked Sodoku puzzles which my office buddies and pals gave me for my recovery period.

It is good to be back at my desk doing what I enjoy a whole lot, covering Panola County sports.

See you on the sidelines, soon.

Ciaramitaro signs with Arkansas State
JONESBORO – On December 20, Arkansas State head football coach Steve Roberts announced that Northeast Mississippi Community College offensive lineman Brandon Ciaramitaro has signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Indians next season.

The 6’3", 280-pound offensive lineman was a two-year starter at Northeast and was named All-MACJC as both a freshman and sophomore, earning first team honors in 2006. He anchored an offensive line at Northeast that was second in the MACJC in rushing and third in total offense in 2005 and helped lead the Tigers to three straight victories to end the 2006 season.

"Obviously, we are very excited to have Brandon Ciaramitaro as a new addition to our football team," said Roberts. "Offensive line was a need for us and he is a guy that has played every position along the offensive front. He has mostly played tackle, but we will probably project him as a center here. He is a very hard worker."

Ciaramitaro graduated from Northeast in December and registered at ASU for the spring semester.

A native of Batesville, Ciaramitaro played high school football for North Delta.

Courtesy: Arkansas State ASU Head Football Coach Steve Roberts.

ND Green Waves overpower Carroll
By Myra Bean

The North Delta boys were up and down last week. The Green Wave defeated Carroll Academy 65-36 Monday night, but lost to West Memphis, Ark. in district action 74-34.

Against Carroll, the Green Wave jumped out to a 16-5 first quarter lead. At the half, North Delta led 26-10.

Carroll perked up in the second half and scored 26 points, but it was not enough to overcome the hot handed Green Wave.

Leading scorer for the game was Brandon White with 19 points, followed by Evan West, 13, and Taylor Herron and John Tyler Moore, 11 points each.

West Memphis just took charge of the game from the opening basket and led 25-7 at the end of the first quarter. West Memphis was up 40-18 at halftime.

Herron was the Green Wave’s leading scorer with 12 points, followed by Moore with 10.

Lady Green Waves
The Lady Green Waves are still struggling but seeing some improvements with scoring.

They lost to Carroll Academy 64-27. Rebecca Maxcy led the Lady Green Wave in scoring with six points.

Against West Memphis, North Delta lost 54-14.

Kathleen Snyder led the Lady Green Waves with eight points.

Jr. High Girls
The junior high ladies continue their win streak of nine straight wins.

They hold a 17-8 overall record, 7-0 district record.

Tonight they travel to Marvell to take on the No. 2 team in the district. If North Delta wins, it will insure them a No. 1 seed in the district tournament which North Delta will host January 29, February 1 and 3.

Last Monday, North Delta defeated Carroll 37-32. Lauren Kimsey led in scoring with 13 points, 5 steals, 5 assists; followed by Linsey Hebert with 10 points.

Other players contributing include Sara Waldrip, six rebounds; and Madison Greenlee, four rebounds, three steals, three assists.

Against district foe West Memphis, North Delta won 44-18. They led 30-5 at halftime.

According to head coach Phil Douglas, the non-starters played most the second half.

Leading scorer was Waldrip, with 14 points and 9 rebounds, followed by Bradi Beard, 7 points and Kimsey, 6 points.

Friday against district foe Desoto, Ark., North Delta won 29-14.

Leading scorer was Greenlee, 9 points, 8 steals, 5 rebounds. Other scorers include Kimsey, 6 points, 6 rebounds; Beard and Meri Morgan Fortune, 3 steals each; and Waldrip, 7 rebounds.

The seventh grade girls defeated West Memphis 20-6 and are 13-0 overall.

Katelyn Still was the leading scorer with 10 points, followed by Bradi Beard with six.

The Green Wave teams are in Marvell, Ark. tonight for district games with all the teams beginning at 3 p.m.

Thursday, North Delta will host Lee, Ark. in district games starting at 3 p.m.

Friday, North Delta will be home again to host Tunica Institute of Learning in district play beginning with the junior high teams at 4 p.m.

Monday, North Delta will be on the road to Magnolia Heights in non-conference action beginning at 4 p.m. Varsity teams will not play.


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