Gridiron-Dandy Dozen

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Gridiron Dandy Dozen
Barksdale and Hardy chosen for coveted list

By Myra Bean

Producing Dandy Dozen players is nothing new to Panola County, but this year two schools share the honor.

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For the 15th time in the history of The Clarion-Ledger’s top 12 seniors in the state, South Panola player made the list.  Darius “Tig” Barksdale received the honor.

Templeton Hardy ends the drought at North Panola. North Panola’s last Dandy Dozen player was Tony Johnson over 10 years ago.

Ironically, new offensive coordinator Clifton Davis III was a Dandy Dozen pick in 1992.

Barksdale and Hardy said they were both excited about the honor to represent their schools as leaders.

Hardy was surprised he received the honor.

“I just never thought I would make it,” Hardy said. “I thought it would be Bruce (Wilbourn).”

Both are also as anxious as the fans to get the 2007 season started.

Barksdale said South Panola will be “pretty good.”

“We are working hard,” he said. “We’re practicing hard. We are putting God in our lives.”

As for Hardy, that excitement for the season had to be rekindled after the abrupt resignation of Vincent Johnson as head coach.

“At first I was kind of disappointed because he had got us through all of this stuff. Now he is gone,” Hardy said. “After I found out who the new coach was and we have been working out together, everything has been easier.”

Though Ricky Woods left South Panola in a much more timely manner, Barksdale said there was still a big adjustment for the team to go through.

Both Barksdale and Hardy play on defense and offense and have different position coaches. Some of those coaches were caught up in the head coaching changes.

“Yes, it has been a whole lot different because we had to get use to the coaches and stuff,” Barksdale said.

South Panola’s reputation in the football arena is that of a dynasty, powerhouse and often called the university of high school football.

Barksdale believes this edition of the football team can keep up that tradition.

“We have some good coaches,” he said. “We are constantly running the ball and working hard at it. We still have the same plays and stuff, so we are still a powerhouse.”

Hardy, offensive/defensive lineman, confidently shoulders the role of team leader, though he is not as vocal as Barksdale.

Barksdale, running back/ defensive back, was not aware at first that players looked up to him.

“I didn’t know a lot of people looked up to me until the coaches came and told me,” he said, laughing. “I had to change some stuff about myself.”

As far as getting the season started, the fans and the team are anxious for  real action. Barksdale is ready to close the mouths of some critics.

“We are just ready to show them on the field,” he said.

The Tigers got a taste of action at a scrimmage in Jackson over the weekend with last year’s playoff foe Provine and with Forest Hill.

Hardy described the North Panola upcoming schedule as tough with 4A foes Oxford and Lafayette on the schedule. Following that are district toughies in Senatobia and Independence.

But both are looking forward to their senior seasons.

“We are looking forward to making it back to state and we are planning on going back 15-0,” Barksdale said.

Something in common for both players is they have verbally committed to colleges they want to play for next fall.

Barksdale committed to Ole Miss and Hardy to Mississippi State. Both liked the idea that the schools are not far from home.

Barksdale said he liked that Ole Miss was close to his mother, Teresa Barksdale. His father is Raymond Barksdale. He did hint that he could be talked into going to another college.

Hardy went to Mississippi State for a visit and talked to head coach Sylvester Croom. He said they were good people and made him feel like he was part of the team.

Hardy is the son of Roberta and Michael Hardy. He has an older brother, Travis Littlefield, sister, LaQuita Hardy and younger, brother, Marvin Hardy.

He said his parents are happy with his college decision and said they were with him every step of the way.

When fans see Barksdale, he gets all kinds of comments. Some ask him what the team will do and others tell him they are only going to win five games.

His response, “Only thing I can tell them is wait for the season to start.”

See both in action with their respective teams this week. South Panola will play in the first round of the Red Carpet Bowl at Vicksburg High School against Warren Central Thursday at 7 p.m.

North Panola will open the season Friday night at Coahoma County High School in Clarksdale at 7 p.m.