South Panola football

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 29, 2008

Tigers to open season against experienced Vicksburg team

By Angie Ledbetter

The 2007 5A state champions South Panola Tigers will open their season tonight on the road in Vicksburg to take on the 4A Vicksburg Gators in the Red Carpet Bowl at 8:30 p.m.

The Tigers, holding the longest winning streak in the nation at 75 games, will be tested tonight when they take the field against a team with a big, talented senior class of 28 and 16 returning starters.

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The last time these two teams met was November 18, 2005 in the first round of the playoffs and South Panola won 41-7.

“I know it’s exciting for them to open their season at home and play us with the success that we’ve had,” said Tiger head coach Lance Pogue. “We’re looking forward to it also but just have to overcome the initial excitement.”

Pogue said Vicksburg is always a very athletic team.

“They have a really good, explosive football team with a lot of big guys with a lot of speed and experience,” he said. “They are a threat no question. They have a lot of skilled guys that can put pressure on you meaning receivers, tightends, quarterback and running backs. With their balanced offense, those guys can really run.”

Added to that is that Vicksburg can run and throw with good accuracy.

Vicksburg quarterback, Les Lemons, 5-9, 177 senior is dangerous because he can tuck the ball, run it, and put pressure on defense, according to Pogue.

“He is a really good operator,” Pogue said. Joining Lemons in backfield is senior running back Jeremy Hamlin.

Other key Vicksburg players are Rodney Beachman, wide receiver and Kurt Cooksey, tightend.

“Both of those guys are talked about a lot with the media,” Pogue said. “Cooksey is listed as one of the top guys in the state and Beachman is a threat, too.”

Pogue said Vicksburg returns four starters on the offensive line.

“That’s big because that’s just the opposite for us,” he said. “We have four brand new ones and they have four guys that have been there and have a little bit more experience there.”

Pogue said the key to defeating Vicksburg is for the Tigers to run the ball.

“We’ve got to run the football like we did the other night at the jamboree. The offensive line did well with our two running backs. I thought Parker and Carothers did a really good job.

“When we do throw the ball we need to be real efficient,” he continued.

He said the defensive scheme is simple.

“We just have to limit them from making big plays on us,” Pogue said.

Their focus is not letting one of the tightends or one of the receivers get a big play or turn the quarterback loose.

“We pride ourselves in being a tough physical team and they’re a little bit more about speed,” Pogue said. “If we can turn it into a tough physical game, then I think it’ll play in our hands.”

Tune into FM 100.5 for live game coverage starting at 8 p.m. for the pregame show.

Directions to Vicksburg High School: Take I-55 to Jackson and take I-220, exit 104 toward West Jackson. Merge into I-20 West toward Vicksburg, going 40 miles. Take the Halls Ferry Road exit 1C. Take a left onto Smiths Aly. Smiths Aly becomes Bowman Avenue. Turn left onto Drummond Street. The address is 2701 Drummond Street.
Estimated time: 3 hours.