NP vs. Byhalia

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 30, 2009

Cougars close out season tonight

By Myra Bean

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The 2-4A battle tonight between North Panola and Byhalia will not be for anything more than to see who will end the season on a high note with one more district win to its record.

The Byhalia Indians (5-5 overall, 1-4 district) and the Cougars (3-6 overall, 1-4 district) both put up stellar seasons last year and were going into this season expecting big things. They did not turn out as the teams had hoped.

The two newcomers to the district, Center Hill and Lafayette County, sneaked in and spoiled things for both teams, and Lafayette County was out of the league  of most teams in the district. That really left only two places for the teams to try to compete for playoff spots.

Center Hill and Senatobia will compete for second place in a battle tonight. Center Hill has clinched a playoff berth with a 4-1 district record, but will be playing to host the first game of the playoffs next week.

So for North Panola and Byhalia the season is all but over except to play this game tonight.

“We hope to end on a positive note,” Cougar head coach Clifton Davis said.

It sounds like a repeat of most of the season. The field at Byhalia will be wet and muddy as North Panola has played on the last five weeks. Playing in the mud this season, the Cougars are 2-3.

“It looks like we have another water fight on our hands,” Davis said. “We will look mostly for Vernon Lewis to run the ball and the offensive line to open up holes for him. Our passing game will be all but negated in this weather.”

The Indians play behind quarterback Patrick Malone who has completed 53 percent of his passes this year for 932 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions. Leading Rusher is Randy Holt with 779 yards and six touchdowns. Leading receivers are Tavaris Neal with 311 yards and one touchdown and Andrey Collins, 277 yards and two touchdowns. The Indians have scored 17 total touchdowns this season.

Leading the team in tackles is Jeremy Sessom with 143 total.

North Panola is led by senior quarterback Quinn Ellis, playing his final high school game tonight. Ellis is completed 51 percent of his passes for 366 yards, two touchdowns and thrown three interceptions. He has 67 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.

Leading rusher is senior Vernon Lewis with 347 yards and three touchdowns.

The leading receiver is junior Ricky Hunt with 370 yards and two touchdowns.

Leading the team in tackles are seniors Cortez Hibbler with 127 total tackles and Curtis Arnold with 102.

Davis spoke candidly about the hope these two teams had going into the season. Before the season started, Davis realized he would be without one receiver due to academic ineligibility. Another receiver has been plagued with knee problems all season and been unproductive so that just left Hunt to handle the receiving duties.

“No one else stepped forward, so we have a lot to fill in the offseason,” Davis said.

Kick off is 7 p.m.