• 46°

SP vs. Southaven

South Panola’s Nick Parker was chosen to play in the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star game on December 12 in Mobile, Ala. The Panolian photo by Andy Young

Tigers/Chargers to clash for dominance

By Angie Ledbetter

The South Panola Tigers will head north to Southaven tonight to face a much-improved Charger team in a district showdown.

The division battle will be delayed broadcast by CSS on Direct TV channel 604 at 6 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

The Tigers (7-1 overall, 4-0 district) will face off the Chargers (7-1, 3-1) on a field that has not seen the Chargers lose this year. South Panola won last year’s battle 35-7.

The Chargers opened their season with a 37-2 win over Independence, then defeated Center Hill 35-15, Hernando 41-7 and Douglas from Memphis 35-0. They lost to Olive Branch 26-15. On October 21, they defeated Columbus 26-15 and on October 16, they defeated Starkville.

Olive Branch and Starkville are tied in division standing with 3-1 records with two regular district games remaining after tonight.

Coach Ed Rich will showcase 62 players that consist of 23 seniors, 21 juniors and 18 sophomors.

Leading the Chargers is junior quarterback Dominique Harris. Receivers are Dontae Barksdale and Jeremy Reed. Rushing the ball are Chris Rice and Desmond Patterson.

Heading up the defense is Grant Woods who has 61 total tackles so far this season, along with Courtney Sutton and Aaron Townsel.

“I’m impressed with them,” said Tiger head coach Lance Pogue. “I thought they were really good last year. In fact I thought they had a chance of beating Madison Central last year in the first round of playoffs but ended up losing 14-9. They’ve come back this year with an even better team with a lot of their guys returning. Losing to Olive Branch in a close game gave them a 7-1 record like us but they have done a heck of a job up to this point.”

To pull out a victory on the road the Tigers will have to put up a solid defensive front, according to Pogue.

“You’ve got to play good defense on the road,” he said. “Southaven is an explosive offensive team. They’ve got a big tall junior quarterback who is 6-5 and 220 and he played a little bit last year but this is his first year to start. He has had a great season up to this point. It looks like they have a really good crew of receivers also. We’ve got to do a good job of getting some pressure on that quarterback and hopefully not give up too many big plays.

“On the other side of it, we’ve got to get our offense going and run the ball,” Pogue added. “We’ve got to make some big plays. Something people don’t talk about a lot but the kicking game is very critical on the road with field position and those kinds of things. We’ve got to do a good job on all phases of the game.”

Though South Panola leads in the division, a loss to Southaven would knock them to 4-1 in district action.

“This game coming up is the biggest one so far because of what it holds for both teams,” Pogue said. “If we win, we’ll be the only undefeated team left. It’s a lot on the line for them because if they win, it would put every one with one loss.”

Pogue said the players have a good attitude going into tonight’s game.

“They have a great attitude and realize what lies ahead,” he said. “Unlike last week, we couldn’t practice due to bad weather. We’ve had some beautiful days to practice this week though and the kids have done a good job.”

Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Directions: Take I-55 north for 46 miles. Take exit 289 toward Horn Lake. (MS 302)  Turn left onto MS-302/Goodman Rd. Go 1 mile and take a right onto Hwy 51 north. Go 1 mile and take a right onto Rasco Road west. Field is at 899 Rasco Road.