North Panola football

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Positive attitudes result in fun Cougar practices

By Myra Bean

“I’ve been here for a long time and this is the first time in a long time I have seen them having fun at practice,” said North Panola statistician Mike Britt. “It’s amazing what a change in attitude will make.”

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Britt was watching the Cougar team go through spring practice in preparation for Friday’s scrimmage with M.S. Palmer. North Panola will host the scrimmage starting at 7 p.m.

During defensive practice, the defensive unit was having fun tackling and taunting highly recruited wide receiver/tailback Bruce Wilbourn.

“I just need one block,” Wilbourn said to the scout team line.

The Cougars are going through their first spring with head coach Vincent Johnson who did not arrive at North Panola until late last spring, after school was out.

He did not have a chance to see what the team would bring last year and they only posted one win for the season.

Johnson’s main topic with his team was a new, positive attitude.

“Coach (Johnson) would complain to me that only 28 or 29 players would show up for practice,” Britt said. “I told him about the time when 13 or 14 would show up one day and another 13 or 14 would show up the next day.”

Johnson said attitude is important to him.

“It is just as important as accomplishments,” Johnson said. “Positive attitudes can dictate the outcome.

“We are taking leaps and bounds to go in a positive direction,” he continued.

Johnson said in an interview last Wednesday that although spring practice was going well, it has been difficult for a few of them.

“We have been able to start with the basics of our scheme of things,” Johnson said. “We are doing a lot of conditioning. Most are not used to playing football at a high intensity this time of the year at the rate we’re going.”

Johnson said he is demanding a lot from the team leaders. He is  still trying to encourage other North Panola students to come out and join the team.

“We are mixing and matching people with positions,” he said.

Plans for the summer include a very active North Panola Cougar team. Johnson is preparing them for 7-on-7 and to attend several camps.

“We are continuing to get strong,” he said. “Weight training has not stopped even through spring practice.”

Johnson concluded weight training and speed training will continue throughout the summer.

He is working with two players at the quarterback position to replace senior Perry Trammell.

Last week Mississippi State head football coach Sylvester Croom stopped by North Panola on a recruiting trip. Johnson said more than 25 recruiters of major division 1 schools have been to North Panola, along with a couple of smaller schools since April 16, the first day of the recruitment season.

“Being recruited builds the morale of kids and is a great experience for them,” Johnson said. “Lots of school have been here to see the kids practice.”

As the schools went through realignment last year, North Panola picked up some new district opponents in Region 3-3A: Lewisburg and Rosa Fort. M.S. Palmer moved to Region 3-4A and Water Valley moved to 2A.

The team will open the season August 24 against Coahoma County in Clarksdale.