NP vs. Center Hill

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 23, 2009

Cougars have big fight on hands

By Myra Bean

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Though 6A schools have three weeks to play, 4A schools are scrambling to get in district wins the next two weeks.

Once again North Panola finds itself in a must-win situation to remain in the running for a playoff spot.

When Center Hill first started playing football about three years ago, they entered the fray as a 2A school. After the MHSAA added a bigger classification this year, the Center Hill Mustangs leap frogged 3A into 2-4A this year.

As with most of the schools in the Desoto County area, the rapid growth of the county has those schools busting at the seems with students.

Center Hill is the only new district opponent for North Panola and the rest of 2-4A aside from Lafayette County. Lafayette County (8-1 overall, 4-0 district) has proven itself as the toughest of the opponents and has already secured a playoff berth.

The Cougars are hoping to play spoiler to the Mustangs and put the Mustangs’ playoff dreams on hold for one week. The Cougars also plan to be in the playoffs as the number four team.

North Panola would have to win its next two games starting with tonight’s game and next week’s final game of the regular season against Byhalia. If Rosa Fort loses to Lafayette County tonight in the Lions’ final game of the regular season, North Panola would tie with Rosa Fort with a 3-3 record and in head-to-head comparison would earn the playoff spot.

“We still have our own destiny in our hands,” said Cougar head coach Clifton Davis Jr.

Last week North Panola fell to Lewisburg 8-0. Davis said the offense played “flat” all night long.

“The defense put us in position to score and win all night long, but the offense was not there,” Davis said.

He called the Cougars’ blocking a “pathetic exhibition.”

“We have not blocked that poorly all year long,” Davis said.

The team did not show any enthusiasm for the game last week and that put Davis in an uproar.

“Quinn Ellis went out hurt in the first quarter and Martavious (Butler) did not realize he would have to play. Football is so much emotion. We have got to be in it emotionally,” Davis said.

Center Hill will play like most of the teams this year with the spread offense, according to Davis. The Cougars will be tasked with stopping the Mustangs’ run game.

They are a run-oriented team but the quarterback likes the play-action-pass.

They line up in a double tightend offense in a full I-formation with three men in the backfield. From there, they run the misdirection many times during the game.

On defense the Mustangs line up in a 4-3 defense.

“Center Hill is a good football team,” Davis said. “We should be competitive.”

Center Hill’s district wins have come in some close matches, except for last week’s 35-6 win over Byhalia. They defeated Rosa Fort 20-18 on September 25 and Lewisburg 21-16 on October 2.

The Cougars cancelled homecoming activities two weeks ago, but plan to present the court during pregame at 6:30 p.m. barring any more bad weather. Seniors will be honored at halftime. Kickoff for the final home game of the regular season is 7 p.m.