Guest commentary by Judge George C. Carlson

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 23, 2008

SP team, Coach ‘class act’ — on field and off

I feel compelled to write this after learning of certain negative comments about the South Panola football program, in general, and the head coach, in particular.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

As Yogi Berra is credited with stating, “you can observe a whole lot just by watching.” I interpret that “Yogism” as meaning “experience is a great teacher.” My life’s experiences have taught me, among other things, that there are plenty of “the-glass-is-half-empty” people in this world who are happy only when they have something to be mad about. Unfortunately, a very, very minuscule number of these type individuals have generated a false perception of unrest in the South Panola community over the loss of a football game.

Having read local newspapers and newspapers with state-wide circulation, I find that the continued praise and support of South Panola football has been overwhelming. Numerous on-the-field opponents have praised South Panola’s players and coaches. By way of example, Madison Central’s players and head coach praised South Panola in defeat, and Meridian’s players and head coach praised South Panola in victory. I also commend the Panolian staff for their positive coverage of South Panola football, and I likewise commend the vast majority of the internet chat-room bloggers who have responded to the minority of bloggers who spread vicious rumors and spew venom of hate toward one of the premier football programs in the nation, all because of the loss of a single football game.

Succinctly stated, head coach Lance Pogue, his staff, and the South Panola players, are a class act, both on and off the field. Under Coach Pogue, the team average GPA has been raised considerably. Coach Pogue and his staff have taught these young men much more than the game of football. They are learning about the importance of faith, character, integrity, and how to deal with life’s ups and downs.

These young men have been shown by example from their head coach how to be gracious in victory, and now, how to be gracious in defeat. After the South Panola victory over Vicksburg at the Red Carpet Bowl, during the post-game awards presentation which was carried over the public address system, Coach Pogue, in victory, took the microphone and gave a positive pep-talk to the losing Vicksburg players, praising them for their hard play and telling them to keep their heads high as they moved deeper into the season. On the other hand, in a post-game edition of the Jackson Clarion Ledger, there is a picture of Coach Pogue, in defeat, congratulating Meridian quarterback Tyler Russell for his great performance which played a large part in Meridian’s overtime victory against South Panola in the Class 5A championship game.

Also, in the Jackson Clarion Ledger, I read that of the 32 teams in Class 5A, South Panola ended up number two, behind Meridian, in total offense. South Panola also had four players (two on offense and two on defense) on the first-team All-State Team. Likewise, South Panola had two players (one on offense and one on defense) on the second-team All-State Team. South Panola’s national reputation has in no way been tarnished by a single loss.

Looming on the horizon, in 2009 and beyond, is continued prominence by South Panola on the football field and the continued reputation as one of the premier high school football programs in the nation.

Finally, recognizing the spirit of the Christmas season which we are currently experiencing, I implore the handful of people within the South Panola community who have chosen to take the low-road since South Panola’s loss in the state championship game to remember that your words affect not only the coaches, but more importantly, the young men who work year-round to condition themselves to be an outstanding football team which will reflect positively on South Panola.

In closing, I am reminded of a statement made by one blogger in response to a negative comment about the championship game loss: “It was a football game. Deal with it and move on.”

Congratulations to the 2008 South Panola Football Tigers for an outstanding season, and the South Panola community is proud of the way you have represented us, both on and off the field!!