Yall vs. Us Game
By Angie Ledbetter
The biggest high school football game in the Magnolia State will be live on national television tonight from Robert H. Dunlap Stadium.
The 6A Olive Branch Conquistadors arrive in town with their swords to try and do something they haven’t done since 2000 – defeat the South Panola Tigers.
The 24-9 series is still fresh on the Tiger’s minds and they have their claws ready to add another “W” tonight in the heated battle that began in the spring.
With an estimated crowd of over 12,000, it is expected to be a claw fight until the end. Both teams come into this battle with equal records of 4-1 overall and 1-0 division.
Memphis University School handed both of them their only loss of the season. The question remains, “Who will emerge the winner?”
“I don’t put a lot of major stock into the fact that both of us have been beaten by MUS but obviously it’s a common opponent,” said Tiger head coach Lance Pogue. “Our game with MUS was a little bit different than theirs and it was two different type teams playing. When we play tonight, it will be a different intensity level.
“We have great respect for Olive Branch,” Pogue continued. “Since I’ve been at South Panola, we’ve managed to win all of the games but they’ve been hard fought, tough ones. I understand that before I came here, there were a lot of close tough games also.”
The build up of the game is great, according to Pogue, and it’s a big rivalry. The bottom line to Pogue, coaching staff and team is this is a big division game.
“Whoever wins this game has a chance to kind of get a leg up on the division race,” Pogue said.
Olive Branch is like South Panola in some ways as they are showcasing some young talent on defense, but both teams are playing their sixth game tonight.
Offensively, Olive Branch has a new quarterback in Todd Mays, 6-1/190, who is a little bit different from the one they had last year.
“Mays is bigger and can run the ball more,” Pogue said. “Their great tailback, Keyshun Shipp who is 5-10/215 has had a great year. Three offensive linemen on the team are being highly recruited.”
Being recruited are Eric Lawson, 6-7/330, Damien Robinson, 6-8/330 and Shalon Coleman, 6-7/285.
“They’re a bunch of great big guys who are explosive with a lot of size.”
It will take some good, strong defense to stop the Olive Branch powerful offense, according to Pogue.
Pogue said he is both anxious and excited about the Tigers.
“I’m really anxious to see our offense. I think we’re close to getting true to form and having a big night. We had a big game last Friday night against Horn Lake and I think we got some confidence there. Also, we got some momentum going so hopefully we can carry that over into this game.”
Last year it was a dog fight to the end and the Tigers had to hold off a last minute serge by the Quistors. Tonight’s live televised game is expected to be just as intense.
“I don’t think it’ll be any question about this game either,” Pogue said. “Both teams will fight as hard as they can to the end and we’re expecting that.”
The school and the kids are enjoying the buildup to the game. The light truck was at the stadium Thursday getting set up. The trailers have been running on television all week advertising the matchup.
“You can tell by their body language they understand what they’re facing and I feel like they’ll be ready to play,” Pogue said. “We’ve improved a lot throughout the season and I feel like we’ll be playing at out best. Everybody is healthy and we’re trying to avoid getting sick which you have no control over. Hopefully we can dodge that and have everybody in full speed.
Kickoff is at 7:20 p.m. Pregame festivities will start at 7 with paratroopers landing on the field to unfurl a flag.
The game will be televised live on Channel 5 out of Memphis. It will also be broadcast live on 100.5 FM WBLE and can be followed on www.panola.com.
Pogue, along with principal Dr. Matt Dillon, P.R. Roberts, mayor Jerry Autrey and Panola Partnership director Sonny Simmons, attended a press conference with an entourage from Olive Branch Thursday morning.
Tickets for the game and T-shirts to “white out” the stadium will be on sale today at the high school from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $6 for general admission and $10 for reserved. T-shirts are $10. Ticket Booth opens at 5:30 p.m.