SP Coach Pogue

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 19, 2008

South Panola head coach Lance Pogue (front right) speaks withe offensive coordinator Trey Dickerson with assistant coach Eric Rice in the back.

Pogue deals with community ire in aftermath of one loss

By Angie Ledbetter and Myra Bean

As the schools prepare to go into the Christmas holiday season, some of the sports activities will continue the next two weeks.

One event is the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game in which South Panola head coach Lance Pogue will be an assistant coach for the East team on January 3. South Panola does not have a player playing in the game this year for the first time in three years. In 2007 Chris Strong played and in 2008 Darius “Tig” Barksdale played.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“To me, it’s just more a credit to our coaches and players and all of the success that we’ve had,” Pogue said. “I want to go out there and represent the state and try to do a good job.”

While in this in-between period after the state championship game, Pogue has been working on next year’s football schedule and has had an up-close-and personal taste with the displeasure of the Panola County community.

Pogue took over the head coaching position after Ricky Woods left in 2007 with a record of 74-1. Pogue assumed the defensive coordinator position after Willis Wright left after the 2008 season.

South Panola lost for the first time since the 2002 state championship game this year to Meridian.

Since then, Pogue has dealt with gossips spreading rumors that he is resigning, Woods is returning and that he placed a bet against the Tigers and now the FBI is investigating him.

“People are amazing,” Pogue said. “None of that is true.”

Players were taking semester exams this week before the holidays, but when they come back in January the weight lifting program will be in full  swing, getting ready for spring training.

The returning players are disappointed in the loss, but are resilient, according to Pogue.

“They’re all excited about what lies ahead and the opportunities for the next year,” Pogue said. “We have a lot to look forward to. I’ve said this many times, when you play the game, you play for championships. Sometimes it may not be your night.

“We had the chance to intercept four or five passes and we didn’t get any of those,” Pogue continued. “Then we came up short on the onside kick when we thought we had it. Nicholas Parker was banged up some but he played his heart out. It was just one of those nights that it just didn’t go our way. You applaud the other team and move forward. That’s just the nature of playing football.”

Pogue is dealing with the issues the “naysayers on the internet” throw at him.

“You have your naysayers on the internet that hide behind nicknames and all and will not expose themselves,” Pogue said. “They’re critical and we understand that.  We don’t put any stock in naysayers that don’t want to spell their name. They want to hide behind a fake name and they have all of the answers and criticize.

“I’m the head coach and the criticism that people point toward me is fine but to our assistants or our players, they’re not deserving of that,” Pogue continued. “It’s no big deal. That’s the nature of the business that football has gotten in to with the internet.”

Pogue has taken heat for the statistics Parker put up this year in carries and yards. Of the team’s 653 rushes, Parker had 357 or 54 percent. Of the 3,739 team rushing yards, Parker had 2,430.

When Pogue was hired, principal Dr. Gearl Loden said he warned Pogue of the future of the South Panola program may encounter.

“I told him when I hired him that he would come in and win a state championship, but after that it may be two of the leanest years South Panola has ever had,” Loden said.

“I know everyone wants to win every game, but that may not happen,” Loden said.

Loden has been pleased with the transition of the coaching staff.

He mentioned the introduction of an aggressive passing game which held South Panola in good stead this season which complimented the relatively new offensive line on the field.

“If we had not had the passing game, we might have lost some more early games this season,” Loden said.

The new schedule is expected to be completed soon and Loden said the people will see that it is a very “tight” schedule that will challenge next year’s team.

“I won’t say we won’t lose any games, but we will be better when it counts,” Loden said.

Loden will recommend the coaching staff be retained for the coming school year.

“I’m so tickled for all of the people that supported this group,” Pogue said. “We had a great following throughout and these kids played their hearts out. For all of the fans that are behind us and stood behind us, we have so much appreciation for them. We had a great following to Jackson and obviously we were disappointed but at the same time our kids played their hearts out and they came up short. That’s what happens sometimes when you play the game.”

Pogue told the players that it is a tough time for them all but life is full of lessons.

“This will be one that is a set back but one of these days down the line, they’ll face a lot more problems within their own life than losing a football game,” Pogue added. “You learn from things like that and adversity makes you a better person. That’s what we’re going to draw from it and move forward.

“You get yourself ready to go again and that’s what our coaching staff and players are made of. We will be back.”