SP v Starkville

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tigers claim first 1-6A District Champ title

By Angie Ledbetter

With a late fourth quarter score, the Starkville Yellowjackets avoided being South Panola’s third straight shutout Friday night.

With a 51-7 win over the Yellowjackets, the Tigers won their eighth straight district championship and are the first ever 1-6A champions.

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When the football season started in late August, many had their doubts the South Panola Tigers (9-1 overall, 6-0 district) had what it takes to return to Jackson for a state championship.

With only a few weeks left, the Tigers can begin to envision another I-55 South road trip.

Friday night’s action between the Tigers and Yellowjackets was the only game in the district played, due to weather. Olive Branch defeated Columbus 33-7 on Saturday to hold on to second place. Southaven shut out Desoto Central 30-0. Tupelo took on Horn Lake last night.

The steady rain fall did not dampen the Tigers’ game plan nor did it dampen the few faithful fans witnessing the win. Most fans decided to stay home out of the weather and catch the game on the radio.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our players,” said Tiger head coach Lance Pogue. “They’ve continued to battle each week and it doesn’t look like we’re having any let downs. We’re playing solid football. If I could’ve drawn a script back in early August to say that I’d like to be in this position right now going into November, I couldn’t write it down on paper to be in any better shape than we are now. That’s all we could ask for.”

The team cannot get complacent right now, Pogue said.

“We’ve got to continue to stay hungry but we have enough youth on this football team that that’s not going to be an issue. This is one of the most fun groups I’ve ever been associated with in my eighteen years of coaching. “

The team has hit its groove a little bit right now and the players seem to be  really comfortable in their rolls, according to the third year coach.

“Our defense helped carry the way creating a few turnovers and they’re playing their best,” he added.

Senior Tiger tightend Taylor Rotenberry scored first for the Tigers on a one-yard run with 1:27 left in the first quarter and Nolan Parker capped it off with the PAT for the 7-0 lead.

Junior linebacker Quin Griffin blocked a punt with 9:28 on the clock in the second quarter and Temario Strong recovered the ball in the end zone for a defensive touchdown for the second straight week.

Nolan Parker’s PAT was good to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead.

Sophomore fullback Hunter Lawrence scored on a one-yard run with 1:14 left on the clock. Parker’s PAT was good for the 21-0 lead. With 44 seconds left in the first half, senior fullback Matthew Brown scored on a four-yard run. The Tigers led 27-0 at the half after the two-point conversion failed.

In the third quarter, senior tailback Nick Parker scored on a 26-yard run with 10:13 on the clock. A few minutes later, with some fancy footwork and a burst of speed, Kendrick Market took the ball 40 yards for a touchdown. With Nolan Parker’s two third quarter PATs, the Tigers led 41-0 led going into the fourth quarter.

Nolan Parker kicked a 37-yard field goal with 11:45 left in the game. Starkville got on the scoreboard at the 8:23 mark when Lakendric Barlow scored on a 35-yard run. A few minutes later Nick Johnson recovered a Yellowjacket fumble in the endzone to put the Tigers up 51-7.

The Tigers finished the game with 355 total yards, 20 first downs, two fumbles (lost both) and three penalties for 15 yards.

The Yellowjackets had 81 total yards, five first downs, lost two of three fumbles, and had four penalties for 30 yards.

Leading the offense for the Tigers was Nick Parker with 122 yards on 14 carries with one touchdown. Other rushers include Carothers, 13 carries, 60 yards; Brown, one carry, one yard, one touchdown; Market, two carries, 43 yards, one touchdown; and Rotenberry, two rushes, 20 yards, one touchdown.

Leading defenders were Issac Gross with 7 tackles, 4 for a loss and 2.5 sacks; followed by Temario Strong, 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one fumble recovery for touchdown. Other defenders include Devin Clark, 5 tackles, 1.5 sacks; Justin Wright, 5 tackles, 1 sack; Stacy Draper, 4 tackles, 1 pass deflection; Nick Johnson, 4 tackles, 1 fumble recovery for touchdown; Qyen Griffin, Antonio Conner, Keunte Turner 3 tackles each; Rotenberry, 3 tackles, 1.5 sacks; Pierre Conner, 1 interception, 1 pass deflection; Al Hentz, Robert Wright, LeGeofrey Glover and Michael Sanford, 1 tackle each.