South Panola football

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ashley joins SP coaching staff as defensive back coach

By Brad Greer

Last spring, first-year South Panola head football coach Lance Pouge was looking for a defensive backs coach. Come to find out all he had to do is look up an old friend.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Pouge did not have to search very far when he hired 30-year-old Ben Ashley to take over the Tigers secondary unit for the 2007 season.

The pair coached together at Eupora High School in 1999 before Ashley moved on to Aberdeen for two seasons then most recently at Amory before landing in Batesville.

“Obviously I am very excited to be here,” he said. “Anytime you mention high school football in Mississippi, South Panola is the first name you hear. I came here in the spring and went though spring practice.

“I knew this was a place with abundant talent and where the community really supports them, and I am really tickled to be here,” Ashley continued. “This is an outstanding coaching staff we have here.”

Ashley went on to say the Tigers had a good spring and has worked very hard during summer workouts. South Panola will return three defensive backs from the spring including Ole Miss commitments Rickyus “Bud” Barksdale and Darius “Tigg” Barksdale, along with cornerback Montez Austin.

“I am really excited to work with those guys and plus we’ve got to add a little bit of depth there. The younger guys have worked hard so the talent is there,” said Ashley.

Ashley, who has been married for six years to his wife Lucy, is a 1994 graduate of Pontotoc High School. He then moved on to Itawamba Community College where he played both football and baseball before walking on at Delta State in 1996 where he played one season. Then he transferred to Mississippi State where he played on the special teams unit as a deep snapper before graduating in 1999.

Pogue said he and Ashley had a great working relationship in the past and he will be a valuable asset to the Tiger coaching staff.

  “I gave him his first job at Eupora when he got out of college and he worked for me for two years then moved on. When I got here (at South Panola) I needed a guy to coach defensive backs and he has been a perfect fit,” said Pogue.

“Ben is a very knowledgeable guy and he gets along good with the kids and is a good school teacher as well. He will be teaching history.”

Ashley will get his first taste of coaching South Panola football when the season opens on Thursday, August 30 at Vicksburg against Warren Central in the Red River Classic.

This is the first game of the tournament. The Friday game will be played between Vicksburg and Clarksdale.