SP Tiger Football

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 13, 2009

SP Tigers start 8th straight march to state championship

By Angie Ledbetter

Tonight will start a new season for the South Panola Tigers as they host familiar faces when the Northwest Rankin Cougars arrive at Robert H. Dunlap Stadium.

The Tigers went undefeated in Region 1-6A and the Cougars placed fourth in Region 2-6A with a 4-3 record. In their division they defeated Vicksburg 35-21, Grenada 27-14, Greenville Wesson 49-16 and Murrah 31-18. They lost to Warren Central 27-26, Clinton 17-7 and Madison Central 49-14.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

These teams met in regular season play on August 28 at Brandon and the Tigers won 34-13.

In nine weeks since the teams met, both have experienced improvements.

“They really haven’t changed any since we played them earlier in the year at their place,” said head coach Lance Pogue. “They’re very similar to even last year when we played them in the playoffs. They’ve struggled some this year but managed to win enough division games to get in.”

Last year the Tigers and Cougars matched up in the second round of  5A playoffs in November and the Tigers won the close battle 21-14 at home with about 7,500 fans weathering wind chill temperatures of 19 degrees.

The Tigers are not looking for either of that to happen tonight as the weather is calling to be great “football temperatures.” The Tigers are hoping for a larger difference in the final score, but the atmosphere, with the several thousand fans, should be electrified as playoffs begin in the first year of 6A.

In 11 regular season games, the Tigers have out scored their opponents 444-81. The Cougars, on the other hand, have been out scored by their opponents 284-244.

Leading the Tiger offense has been senior Nicholas Parker, leading scorer for the Tigers with 78 points. He had 162 carries for 987 yards and 13 touchdowns. Nicklos Brassell has scored 11 touchdowns for 66 points on 51 receptions for 1,006 yards. Domonique Carothers has scored 10 touchdowns for 60 points on 120 carries with 649 yards. Lee Self has completed 80 of 142 passes for 1,090 yards with 14 touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the ball, Devin Clark and Justin Wright lead the team with 58 tackles each. Issac Gross follows with 57 and Temario Strong 55. Clark leads the team with 11.5 sacks followed by Gross with 11 and Strong with 9.

“We’ve made major improvements since day one until now. When we started the season we were kind of uncertain in some areas as far as experience. We’ve played eleven games now and our kids kind of have the hang of what they’re doing. The young guys have a feel for their position. A big thing is we’ve really molded together as a close football team.”

With a win, South Panola will face the winner of the Southaven at Clinton game next week. Even though they could get excited about the next round opponent, Pogue refuses to look past this game.

“With a new season beginning, it’s one game at a time now,” he said. “You’ve got to win the game at hand in order to get to the next or if not it’s all over with. Our focus is trying to play one game at a time and be the best team we can be on that particular night.

If we can win and take care of business, then the next round we will focus our attention on that.”

The players are excited that it is playoff time, according to Pogue.

“When it gets here, it’s really fun,” he said. “It’s kind of a different feel about it on Friday night with the importance of each play and each down. Our guys want to do well and they’re excited about playing.”

Other north games around the state in 6A being played tonight include Southaven at Clinton, Starkville at Madison Central and Warren Central at Olive Branch.

Kickoff is at 7.

Tickets are on sale at the high school only for $6 until 2 p.m. The ticket booth opens tonight at 5:30 p.m. No reserve seating is allowed during playoffs.