SP Football 2008

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 22, 2008

Tigers’ rivals include Florida powerhouse

By Myra Bean
South Panola head football coach Lance Pogue has finalized the 2008 football schedule with a possible ESPN television game.

“It’s no question, we will have a great chance to be on tv,” Pogue said. “But that is not locked in because … it all depends on how the tv slots fall and that kind of thing.”

South Panola will trade out the September 19 game with Apopka, Fla. (A-pop-kuh). It is 12 miles northwest of Orlando. South Panola will host the game.

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A televised game is not nailed down yet, according to Pogue, because ESPN has to schedule all the games it will televise and finalize the plans. It is possible the game will be played on Thursday, September 18, to accommodate television, Pogue said.

Apopka is ranked No. 5 in Florida following last season where they went 12-2 and were upset in the state semifinals by Boone 21-18.

Apopka can be called a suburb of Orlando, said John Peery, editor of the Apopka Chief. He said there are so many schools in Orange County that of the 14 games played, Apopka only played one game out of county.

Because of the nature of the population there, he said it could take 30 minutes to an hour to get to somewhere in Orlando from Apopka.

Apopka is a 6A school with an enrollment of over 3,500 students.

Florida and Texas have the highest number of recruited athletes in the nation, Pogue said.

Pogue said talks about a matchup of this caliber have been in the works since before last season began. When South Panola signed with Gatorade, they also teamed up with the marketing firm Paragon who started talks about possibly matching teams up, he said. Paragon was the third party.

“We are stepping into a big challenge, but we are excited about it,” Pogue said. “They are great competition. We are going to accept the challenge. We are excited to have a game of this magnitude coming to Batesville. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Pogue said they have to keep things in perspective because they have three big games before that: at Vicksburg and Clarksdale, home with Grenada.

“There are no givens in this,” he said. “It will be a big time Southeast matchup. Obviously, we have had a lot of success in the state of Mississippi the last five years, so we are going to take a challenge from out of state.”

Pogue said this was one of his goals when he came South Panola because he believes the program is on that level.

“I think this will give us extra motivation with our team throughout the spring and the summer,” he said. “I am just happy that things were able to come together. It will be fun because they  don’t know anything about us and we don’t know anything about them, separated by two or three states.”

Pogue said the offseason workout is going according to plan.

“Right now our kids are working unbelieveable. They have great attitudes. We have tremendous team concept, team effort going in the weight room. Our guys who are going to be seniors are really stepping up and providing positive leadership,” Pogue said.

South Panola finished the season with a 75-0 record, the longest active record in the nation. They were also ranked No. 2 by Sports Illustrated at the end of the season.

Even though South Panola is graduating some good football players, Pogue said, “Folks had better not count us out. South Panola football will stay alive.

“We lost some good football players off this senior class,” he said. “We have some good players coming back. We have some good young guys who are going to be really, really good as they get game experience. We are real excited about spring practice, getting some new guys on the field and getting them in the right spot. That will be our focus this spring.”

South Panola will start spring practice on Thursday, April 24 and play a spring game at Lafayette on Tuesday, May 13.

Pogue is looking at options for filling the position vacated by the resignation of defensive coordinator Willis Wright. He said he hopes to have someone in place by spring break or right after spring break, which is March 10-14.

South?Panola 2008 Schedule

Date    Opponent    Place    Time
Aug. 29    Vicksburg    Away    7 pm
Sept. 5    Clarksdale    Away    7 pm
Sept. 12    Grenada    Home    7 pm
Sept. 19    Apopka, Fla.    Home    7 pm
Sept. 26    Horn Lake*    Home    7 pm
Oct. 3    Olive Branch    Away    7 pm
Oct. 10    Columbus    Home    7 pm
Oct. 17    Tupelo    Away    7 pm
Oct. 24    Southaven    Home    7 pm
Oct. 31    Starkville    Away    7 pm
Nov. 7    DeSoto Central    Away    7 pm