SP Football

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Returning starters wide receiver Marcus Henry (left) and defensive back Kendrick Market practice against each other last week. The Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

Tigers prepare for spring game

By Angie Ledbetter

The defending 6A state champion South Panola Tigers are putting final touches on spring practice in preparation for spring games this Friday in Louisville.

The team began practice three weeks ago but took the second week off for state testing before resuming this past week. They will wrap up the final week Thursday before traveling to Louisville to take on West Point and Louisville in the spring games starting at 5 p.m.

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Tiger head coach Lance Pogue said they took the week off so they could focus on state tests.

“We’ve never done that before but I thought that it was good,” Pogue said. “The tests are so important to them and the teachers so I wanted the kids to give their attention to it.”

Pogue said the team had a good week of practice to start the spring.

“Then after resuming this past week, I thought we had another good week. I think it will be a good test for us.”

West Point won the 2009 5A state championship and returns a good team, according to Pogue. Louisville has won two state championships out of the last three years.

“I think we’re playing the best in the state,” he said.

West Point Green Wave won the state championship by defeating Wayne County 35-14. They finished the season with a 14-3 overall record and third in the state.

The 4A Louisville Wildcats finished their 2009 season 8-5 overall and second in their division. They lost to Lafayette 14-6 in the first round of playoffs. In 2008 they won the state championship by defeating Tylertown 26-21.  They were crowned the state champions in 2007 when they defeated Franklin County 21-7.    

As far as how practice has gone, Pogue said some answers have been found.

“We had a few offensive line questions that we were having to work on but were able to get some answers there. We had a little work at linebacker and I think our kicker is really progressing. I really feel good about where we are with a week left to go,” said Pogue.

Lee Self, the quarterback was back in action this past week after baseball season ended.

“Lee did a great job last year but is head and shoulder further along than last year with having 15 games and a state championship under his belt with confidence,” Pogue said. “He knows our offense so well and is playing so relaxed. Lee also has so many leadership qualities and I’m really pleased with him.”

A new face on the team is junior field goal kicker Richie Kovacs, an exchange student from Czechoslovakia. Kovacs had never picked up a football until two months ago. He played soccer at home but likes football. When asked what he knew about South Panola football, he replied, “I know they’re very good and won a lot.”

“He came out kind of like Nolan Parker did last year,” said Pogue. “He started working in January and has tremendous potential in kicking some long ones and making some extra points. He is just in the learning stages and his best is yet to come. He has come 360 since January and I’m expecting a lot out of him this fall. I think we have a lot of promise there and I’m really excited about him.”