NP Cougar football

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 19, 2007

Big district game on tap tonight at NP

By Brad Greer

With three weeks remaining in the regular season, it is time to separate the contenders from the pretenders in District 3-3A as the  race to the playoffs heads into the home stretch.

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After being on the short end of a 60-42 verdict against Oxford last Friday, the North Panola Cougars awoke Saturday morning alone in first place after Byhalia shocked Senatobia 38-37.

But the win by the Indians did not surprise Cougar head coach Clifton Davis Jr.

“It did not shock me a bit when I heard about it because the way Byhalia throws the ball around they can get hot on any given night and put up some big numbers. They scored 66 points on Lewisburg the week before we played them. That game put them back in the playoff hunt,” said Davis.

The Cougars, (4-3; 3-0) will attempt to remain in first place tonight by hosting the Independence Wildcats in the final regular-season home game.

Independence, (4-3 overall, 2-2 district) comes into the contest on the heels of a 50-28 thumping of Lewisburg last week. A win by North Panola would guarantee them a playoff berth.

Other district games include: Tunica Rosa Fort ( 3-4, 1-3) at Byhalia (4-3, 3-1);  Holly Springs (2-4, 1-3) steps out of district play to face Shelby Broadstreet while Senatobia (5-2, 3-1) hosts Lewisburg (1-6, 0-3).

Senior quarterback Jeremy Langston will direct the Independence offense. Langston has accounted for 15 touchdowns this season with 11 of those coming through the air while adding four rushing scores.

His main target will be WR/DB  D.J. Newson who has caught eight TD passes on the year. Senior RB/LB  Lacy Jackson will join Langston in the backfield.

“Independence is one of the stronger teams in the district,” said Davis. “They have a very good running in No. 5 (Jackson) and they have a very good defense and are very much still in the playoff hunt.

“This is a very important game for us,” Davis continued. “It is our last home game of the regular season and defensively we’ve got to get after them. They are primarily a running football team but will spread you out. They will throw the ball on occasion but they run the ball to set up the pass.”

Davis went on to say he looks for the Wildcats to put eight and nine men on the line of scrimmage and force the Cougars to throw the ball .

“We’ve got to get some receivers open and (quarterback) Quin (Ellis) has got to throw the ball and mix things up to keep Independence off-balance.”

In the loss to Oxford, Bruce Wilbourn scored four touchdowns including a 45-yard punt return while Ricky Hunt hauled in a 44-yard scoring strike from Ellis in the fourth quarter. Defensive tackle Templeton Hardy recovered a pair a fumbles one of which went for 40 yards for a score.

Darius Loveberry pulled down his second interception of the season.

The Cougars will come into the game banged up as defensive end Brandon Williams is questionable after a dislocated shoulder suffered last week.

Sophomore free safety Marque Phillips is out for the season with a torn ACL while senior fullback Darryel Burdette is doubtful with a knee injury.