Myra Bean Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tiger football still alive and well

Wow! What an unexpected change in circumstances.

The South Panola loss still has me stunned as of Monday morning. I can’t seem to shake off the blues. What the South Panola football program has accomplished in the past seven years is nothing short of amazing. Only three teams in the whole country (De La Salle High of Concord, Calif. (151) and Independence High of Charlotte, (109)) have ever climbed those mountains and come out on top.

That should be enough but it will probably take a win to totally erase this sense of loss. Though we did lose, the Tiger program is still alive and well.

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I am proud of what this year’s team accomplished. They remind me a lot of the 2002 and 2005 teams. I remember after the 2002 season Coach Ricky Woods would tell me he was just glad they got a win. It was an iffy situation he walked into. He knew there was talent but there were some discipline problems, too.

Woods dismissed a player from the team for his junior year and said they never would have won 14 games with that player on the team. The player came back his senior year a changed man. He went on to college and has had a stellar career and is getting ready to graduate. There has never been a negative word said about him since that junior year.

The 2005 team was said not to have any standout players on that team. They had no choice but to play as a team and went undefeated, kept the streak alive and won a state championship.

This year’s team is really special to me. Even though I was not at every game, through Angie Ledbetter I knew what was going on in each game. I saw the struggle this team went through. Some teams do not have to play their best every week, but this Tiger team was tested every week. Every team was gunning to be the one to stop the streak, to stop the trip to Jackson but the Tigers prevailed.

Despite the loss, the main thing is this scrappy little team made a seventh straight trip to the ‘Big Dance.’

South Panola owns a 103-2 record in seven years. No one else in Mississippi can say that, not even the new 5A state champion Meridian team. They could not even bring an undefeated record into the state championship.

Yeah, I know we wanted the trophy to proclaim us top cat, but right now we have to take the runner-up title and handle the fallout of having the streak broken. Lots of people are gloating who were pulling for Meridian to pull off the seemingly impossible.

I say gloat on. The ones who irk me the most are locals who said they were glad the team lost and they needed to lose and stupid stuff like that. Put yourselves in their shoes and see what a loss feels like on any level and then say you yourself needed to lose. That may make you think before you shoot off your mouth to young men who have played their hearts out the last three years to make their senior dreams come true. Your words, actions and non-support hurt them. You need to apologize.

There is not much more I can say to the seniors except let time heal you of this deep hurt. I know it’s deep and I know it hurts. But hopefully, you will save this column and pull it out in four or five years when other things have replaced high school football in your life and then you will see what I mean.

I think the best program to get back to that winning streak lies with South Panola. Every one is trying to copy what South Panola has but they do not seem to be able to put together consistent enough seasons to make it happen.

No one in the state of Mississippi has enjoyed what we have enjoyed at South Panola. The thing is most of us are ready to enjoy some more. So Tigers you will always be Tigers no matter what college jersey you are privileged to don or what sports you don a jersey for.

God bless each and every one of you and thank you for playing so hard.