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SP vs. Horn Lake

Tigers and Eagles to kick off district

By Angie Ledbetter

The South Panola Tigers (3-1) have been preparing for the start of division play and will travel to Horn Lake tonight to take on the Eagles.

After the MHSSA revised the rules, the Tigers had their first open date last Friday night in several years.

“I thought our open date was a positive thing,” said Head Coach Lance Pogue.

“It rained every day but with us having the turf, the only thing that gets us is the lighting and things like that. We had three practices which is what we had planned. We worked on ourselves and I feel like we’re a lot better. We improved in some areas but you don’t know until you go play again. I think it gave the players a chance to get rejuvenated again. They’ve been going for seven straight weeks so I thought we used the open date for our advantage. We got some good weight room work in also.”

The Tigers were able to review and go back over some fundamentals on offense and defense during the week off, according to Pogue.

“I feel like our backs are getting it going in the running game like we all expected. We just focused on trying to improve ourselves on running the football. The guys worked really hard and had a great attitude.”

Pogue talked about the team’s progress up to this point.

“We had the setback with MUS beating us but I think they’ve proved they’re as good as what people are saying they are. They knocked Olive Branch off 20-15.

“From the beginning of preseason up to now, we’re a lot further along with having played four games and having that experience,” Pogue continued. “We feel like our best is in front of us and we’re looking forward to starting division play. I told the players they didn’t have a margin of errors, anytime you win a division game it puts you one step closer to getting yourself in better position for playoffs. That’s what everybody is playing for now. It’s going to be seven straight weeks of really good football teams.”

A standout player Pogue mentioned was Devin Clark on defense.

“Devin Clark has played up to everything that’s been said about him. He has had an outstanding four games as an offensive lineman for us and we’re going to use him some more as tight end. I’ve been really proud of him and I expect him to be playing at his best for the division games.”

Excitement shimmers about the expectations of the offensive secondary.

“I’m really excited about what I expect out of our running backs from here on out. I’m expecting Nick Parker, Domonique Carothers and Qyen Griffin to really take off. I feel like the running game is getting really close to what we’ve expected. “

Pogue said he is pleased with the kicking game and said special teams has been real solid.

“We’ve got guys like Nick Brassell, punt return and kickoff return guys that can make big plays.”

Brassell has not been a surprise to the coaching staff at all, according to Pogue.

“I knew how talented he was. Being able to get the ball to him has made some big plays. When our running game gets to where it should be and I expect that to happen this week, then that’s going to complement our offense. If we can run and throw the ball, then I think we’ll have a better chance to be explosive down the stretch. That’s what we want to do.”

In the non divisional games, the Tigers have outscored opponents 133-48 and with a total offense of 1,438 to 570.

The Tigers will take on the Eagles tonight for the first divisional showdown. In last year’s contest, the Tigers had a dominating 34-7 win.

The Eagles (2-2) started their season off by hosting 3A Charleston Tigers and lost 12-6. The following week, they defeated Johnson Central from Kentucky 33-20. In week three they beat Center Hill 44-21 and last week they lost to Briarcrest of Memphis 35-14.

John Cooley is in his third year as head coach at Horn Lake and has a roster of 77 players.

“He had a lot of success at Ridgeway in Memphis and is doing a good job at Horn Lake. They’re getting close to getting a lot better and have some skilled players up there.”

Main Eagles include receiver, No. 19 Bakari Trotter, who is expected to be highly recruited, Pogue said. Jay Jones No. 8 is a good running back.

“They’re struggling a little bit right now at quarterback after their junior quarterback got injured and is out for awhile,” Pogue said. “They have a freshman, No. 12 Josh Cooley, playing at that position and I can understand how that is because we’re playing a ninth grader on defense. But to have one at quarterback is a big deal. He has stepped in and done an admirable job.  When you play 6A football with a ninth grader without much experience, it’s tough but he obviously has a bright future ahead of him.”

Horn Lake is employing a balanced offensive attack in running and throwing the ball.

“No question about it, they have some capabilities offensively but hopefully we’ll be at our best defensively.”

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

Directions: Horn Lake High School is located on Church Road. Take I-55N and take the Church Road exit. Turn left onto Church Road. Go through the 51 intersection. Go through the four-way stop about a mile. School is on the right.