NP vs Independence

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 17, 2008

NP looks for determined Wildcat team tonight

By Myra Bean

The North Panola Cougars and the Tunica Rosa Fort Lions are in a dead heat for first place in 3-3A with 3-0 district records. If these teams can survive the next two weeks of district play, they will have a chance to compete for the crown against each other on Halloween night.

Until then both teams have big district games coming up.

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North Panola will be at Independence who lost to Lewisburg 47-26 Friday night. Rosa Fort will host Byhalia and Lewisburg the next two weeks and visit North Panola in Sardis for the last game of the regular season.

Byhalia, who is winless on the year, may not pose too much of a challenge to the Lions who have outscored opponents 220-142 this season.

North Panola is also fielding a much-improved team over last year and have placed themselves in the role of the “team to beat.”

Unlike Rosa Fort, technically North Panola has a “harder” schedule of district teams remaining to play. After Independence, North Panola will host Senatobia, always a thorn in everyone’s side in 3-3A.

North Panola took care of Lewisburg on October 3, 30-7. Last year Independence defeated the Cougars 34-14.

No matter what has gone on for Independence this season with other district teams, Cougar head coach Clifton Davis Jr. said, “It does not matter. It’s just us versus them.”

Though Independence lost 15 players to graduation last year, Davis still expects a good, tough football game from the Wildcats.

“It is homecoming and they want to win for the alumni,” Davis said. “I look for them to play above what they have played.”

The quarterback, Antonio Burton, and running back, Rainey Tuggles, along with wide receiver Orlanskee Montgomery are some key players for the Wildcats.

Coming off last week’s loss to Oxford, the Cougars practiced long and hard on finishing when in the red zone and at the goal line, according to Davis. On defense, they practiced pass defense. The Wildcats will bring a 4-3 defense and blitz most of the time, Davis said.

“They are real active on defense,” he said. “They will come from all types of places and play man-to-man. That makes it a little hard. They also have a pretty good special teams.”

Last year Davis felt the team overlooked Independence because he felt they were better than the Wildcats.

“That’s not going to happen this year,” he said. “We control our own destiny now and do not want to go down 3-1 in district.”

Kickoff for tonight is 7 p.m.