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Ricky Woods returns

Former SP coach will lead Ranger football

By Myra Bean
He’s back!!

Batesville welcomes back coach Ricky and Susan Woods.

Ricky Woods has accepted the head coaching position at Northwest Community College in Senatobia after Randy Pippin resigned in November. Pippin replaced longtime coach Bobby Franklin and only stayed in the position three years.

Woods led South Panola to some record breaking events during his six years at South Panola. The Tigers amassed a 74-1 record from 2002 to 2006. They played in five straight state championship games and won four straight state in route to a state record 60 straight wins.

Woods saw two players in the U.S. Army All-American game, Derek Pegues and Chris Strong, and Strong was also his Parade All-American player.

Over the years, Woods has amassed a 213-43 high school record also coaching at Ackerman and Eupora before South Panola. He moved to Bainbridge, Ga. last March and took the high school team through a 9-4 record and the quarterfinals of the playoffs.

When one of the South Panola senior players got the news Tuesday, he proceeded to call his he proceeded to call his teammates.

Jemarcus “Yoshi” Hardrick said Quinn Sanford, Jonathan Wilson and Cameron Wagner all called him to tell him the news.

“They told me how excited they were he was coming back home,” the 6’6”, 295 pound defensive end said.

Hardrick does not know where he will go to school after he finishes at South Panola, but did say that Northwest had protected him. Members of the Tiger offensive line would like to take the whole line to Northwest next year, Hardrick said.

Woods coached Jonathan Wilson for two years. Wilson said Woods called to talk to him and tell him that he missed being around everybody and the community.

“I am just glad he’s back,” Wilson said. “He is a great addition to the community.”

Wilson said he is not really looking to go to Northwest. He made an 18 on his ACT recently. This was Wilson’s first time to take the test.

Tight end David Baker also does not know where he will go after high school, but said Woods at Northwest is a good selling point for him if he went to Northwest.

“If I go, it would be because he is there,” Baker said. “I am happy for him that he got the big time job. I believe he will turn the program around.”

It was not all a bed of roses for Pippin at Northwest. His first year at Northwest, the Rangers went 1-6 overall. The second year was better with a 6-4 record and the MACJC north division champion. This past season, the Rangers went 6-4 and were the division runner-up.

Pippin followed Bobby Franklin who had coached the Rangers for 24 years, 1981-2004. The field was renamed in Franklin’s honor. Franklin led the Rangers to two national championships in 1982 and 1992.

Danny Ray Cole of Batesville is the strength and conditioning coach at Northwest and said Woods will keep him on his staff.

“I know him real well and I think he will be a great asset to Northwest,” Cole said. “He deals with the same types of kids we do in high school. We want to get them graduated and make football players out of them. I am anxious to work with him.”

Woods reputation precedes him and is a plus, according to Cole.

“He understands the system,” Cole said. “I am anxious to get him up here. I look forward to working with him. I wish I had had the opportunity sooner, but God works in mysterious ways.”

In a press release from Brett Brown at Northwest, the school hopes to return to the glory years of Bobby Franklin with wins, national rankings and state championships.

Woods owns the Mississippi High School Activities Association record with six state championships to his credit. He won the Class 2A state title in 1997 and 2001 while serving as head coach at Ackerman High School from 1994 through 2001.

Woods was selected EA Sports National Coach of the Year and state Coach of the Year by The Clarion Ledger in 2005. He was named Class 5A Coach of the Year by the MHSAA four consecutive seasons from 2003 through 2006.

“We are pleased and excited to have Coach Woods as the new coach of the Rangers,” said Northwest president Dr. Gary Spears. “He comes with a wealth of experience and success. We expect him to bring the same success to Northwest that he has brought to other institutions where he has coached.”

Woods, a native of Ackerman accepted the position after meeting with Spears and Dr. Chuck Strong, Northwest’s Vice-President for Educational Affairs, according to the press release.

“This is a great place to coach with a rich tradition in football,” said Woods. “I am excited about the opportunity to get back to Mississippi and to coach at Northwest.”

Woods will officially begin his new position January 8.
“I’m coming home,” Woods said.