Willis Wright roast

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 1, 2011

Roast for celebrated coach will aid local foundations

By Rupert Howell

Two local foundations are joining forces and honoring legendary high school football coach Willis Wright at a Dinner Roast Thursday, April 29 at the National Guard Armory in Batesville beginning at 6 p.m.

The Panola County Community Foundation along with the South Panola Athletic Foundation are sponsoring the event to honor Wright by having friends, old and new, as well as former players tell tales of Wright’s escapades as he went about state championship after state championship in six different venues in two different states.

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Presiding State Supreme Court Justice George C. Carlson will emcee the event. Carlson is voice of the Tigers on the local radio station and has closely followed Tiger Football since he was a Tiger himself in the mid-1960s.

Wright’s last stop before his first retirement was Batesville where he coached the South Panola Tigers to their first 5A championship and is considered the “father” of the dynasty that has often dominated Mississippi high school football since.

Wright came out of retirement when the local private school needed a coach and took North Delta to their first and only state championship game turning a 2-9 team into a championship team during his three years there.

Thought locally to be a remarkable feat, those who followed Wright’s career were not surprised as he had accomplished similar feats in Saltillo, Starkville, Greenville, Ala., and Nettleton before coming to Batesville to guide the Tigers then the Green Wave.

Tickets for the fund-raiser are $55 and $100 for couples, and are available at Panola Partnership in Batesville at 662.563.3126.

Panola County Community Foundation consists of a local group of citizens who raise funds to disperse among local non-profit causes.

South Panola Athletic Association is a group who offers financial support to South Panola athletics and facilities.

All former students, coaches, fans and friends are invited to attend the fund-raiser roast and have some fun while raising money for two organizations whose entire emphasis is Panola County.