North Panola football

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 29, 2008

NP opens at home tonight

By Myra Bean

As North Panola plans to open the season at home tonight, on front stage will be sophomore quarterback Quin Ellis and junior linebacker Cortez Hibbler.

Ellis, 5’9”, 160 pounds, has come a long way since last year. So much so that he will have some running plays designed just for his speed.

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North Panola participated in a preseason scrimmage at Bruce last week and head coach Clifton Davis Sr. said he did a good job of throwing the ball.

The problem was the wide receivers dropped the passes.

Ellis asked the wide receivers to “step up” in a preseason interview.

Hibbler, 6’4”, 220 pounds, plays middle linebacker and left tackle. He is one of the anchor players on the team that Davis expects the rest of the team to pull from.

Hibbler said he practices more on the defense position because he is more of a tackling type of person.

When the games get long and they are behind, Hibbler said his job is to keep the team hyped up until the last buzzer sounds.

“I am not a fan of losing,” Hibbler said.

North Panola will host the Coahoma County Panthers in the season opener. North Panola barely squeaked by with a 16-15 win last year.

“We were lucky to come out with a win,” Davis said. At this time last year, Davis had only returned as coach for a month before the season started.

“I expect them to be tough again this year,” he said.

While North Panola had a 5-6 year with a playoff appearance, the Panthers are coming off a 1-8 season. Their only win was over Coahoma AHS who was winless last year.

Not knowing a lot about this year’s team, Davis expects them to still be a throwing team. The Panthers, under head coach Gregory Redd, played out of the shotgun last year with three or four wideouts each play. On defense, they showed a four and five man defense and blitzed a lot.

“We expect them to play man-to-man in the secondary and hopefully, we will get some passes caught,” Davis said.

Following last week’s scrimmage in Bruce, working with the receivers has been a main focus of practice this week, along with the kicking game and the offensive line.

“We blocked the passing well, but did not do well in blocking the run,” Davis said.

There was no kicking at the scrimmage and to get some more players involved in the game, Davis has put them on special teams.

“We lose some games not being able to kick,” Davis said. “The players on special teams will be young, so we will just have to make adjustments as we go along. We want as many people to play as possible.”

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

The Mississippi High School Activities association has mandated that all games in through the end of September begin at 7:30 p.m. unless special permission is gained.