NP v Winona

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2008

North Panola head football coach Clifton Davis Jr. has his team poised to take on Winona tonight in the second round of playoffs. See a special spread in today’s edition of The Panolian. The Panolian photo by Myra Bean

Cougars face tough competition in Winona Tigers for 2nd round

By Myra Bean

It is no secret as the playoffs progress each week the opponents get tougher for both teams.

This week is no exception for the North Panola Cougars as they prepare to take on District 2-3A champion Winona Tigers.

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One would think the No. 1 and 2 teams would have displaced the No. 3 and 4 teams last week, but that is not the case and some upsets occurred.

Both Winona (8-3, 5-1), No. 1 and North Panola (7-4, 5-1), No. 2, took care of their opponents but both will have their hands full tonight with each other.

Winona defeated Cleveland East Side 38-7 in the first round of playoffs. North Panola is coming off a big, emotional, come-from-behind win over Booneville 26-21.

Louisville is the reigning 3A state champion and Winona took them out 30-27 to win District 2-3A.

Senatobia gets Louisville tonight in the second round of playoffs while North Panola gets the team that took out Louisville, Winona.

Cougar head coach Clifton Davis said he was impressed with Winona in the way they defeated Louisville.

“Anytime a team takes down the defending state champions, that gets the attention of the state,” Davis said.

Louisville is not a team to back down from opponents after dropping to 3A last year. They took on 5A Starkville and won 32-10. This neighboring county rivalry dates back to Louisville’s 4A days.

Louisville also took on No. 2 state ranked Wayne County and No. 10 Noxubee County and lost to both. Wayne County is touted as the toughest team in the state which could possibly stop South Panola’s win streak if the two ever played each other again. Noxubee County, in take no prisoner mode, has shutout seven of its 10 opponents this year.

The skinny in 4A is Noxubee County and Wayne County in the state championship, with D’Iberville planning a big South 4A spoil. That is if Picayune does not take out Wayne County tonight.

Leading the Winona Tigers is quarterback Harry Peoples, who finished with 159 yards on the ground with three touchdowns and was eight for 11 through the air for 137 yards against Louisville.

Davis described Peoples as a “dangerous” player on the field.

“He is outstanding, strong, quick and aggressive,” Davis said. “It was like he defeated Louisville by himself. He wants to win. I hope we can surround him.”

The Tiger defense is disciplined, according to Davis. On the Cougar radar will be Trenny Manual, who will have to be double teamed in order to give the Cougar game a chance, running or throwing, Davis said.

Other Tigers to watch include running backs Chief Brown, Alex Devine, Zack Trimble; offensive linemen Clint Yates, Alex Devine, Clayton Burt, William Bradley, Deon Cunningham; tightend Jay Purnell, fullback Demetrius Elder; receivers Snoop Crawford, Daniel Hooks, Jamondrick Hobbs and Vintrell Small.

On defense are Sam Small, Peoples, Trenny Manual, Tyler Wiltshire, defensive captain Dameon Seals, Dave Carter, Rafael Bibbs, Jimmy Mims, Chris Jefcoat and Gwain Jefcoat.

“They are an excellent football team,” Davis said. “The special teams are good. I couldn’t find any weakness.”

On the positive side, Davis said he likes the way the Cougar team is playing right now.

“We are peaking at the right moment,” he said. “I hope some breaks come our way. On paper, it looks like things will go their (Winona) way. We are not in awe of what Winona has done, but we do respect them.”

Kickoff tonight is at 7 p.m.

Directions: Take Interstate 55 South to the Winona Exit 185. Take left onto Highway 82 East. Turn right on US-182, go a mile and school is down on road. Can park at the bank or any place and walk to the visitor side on the East Side.