SP football

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In the spring game Thursday at Greenville, South Panola’s Issac Gross brings down Greenville’s running back Donald Jackson. The Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

Tigers return only 6 starters in spring game loss to Greenville

By Angie Ledbetter

The national champions South Panola football team wrapped up its spring training with a scrimmage at the Charles Kerg field against the Greenville Wesson Hornets Thursday.

The Tigers are gearing up to take on the challenge of the 2011 football season with a lot of new faces on the sideline.

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Only six starters are returning for this year’s team, four on defense and two on offense.

Returning are Tony Conner, Temario Strong, Issac Gross and Kendall Carr. Lakedric Flowers and Deon Nix saw a lot of playing time along with Hunter Lawrence and Jaterrian Wren.

The Tigers started spring practice April 18 and had one week off for state testing the end of April. They completed two weeks in May.

According to Tiger head coach Lance Pogue, the team has worked hard with a great attitude with a lot of enthusiasm.

“These kids are hungry and they want to be coached.”

Several players saw playing time at the scrimmage. Each team had ten plays on offense and then defense starting on the 30 yard line. Greenville started on offense and made it to the endzone three times while the Tigers only made it once.

Tony Conner took the ball 70 yards for the only Tiger score. Seeing action at the quarterback position were Tevis Flowers and Bailey Lawrence. Carrying the ball for the Tigers were Conner, Flowers, Lawrence, Marcus Dixon, Carlos Flowers, C. J. Leland, Ladarius Strong, Quandez Lee and Ron Taylor. Intercepting Greenville’s passes were Hunter Sawyer and Johnson. Getting sacks were Issac Gross, Temario Strong and Nick Johnson.  

“We lost so many really good football players from this past year’s team,” said Pogue. “We lost basically all of the offensive linemen, our quarterback, tailback and starting receivers. Defensively, we lost one starting defensive end and everyone on the secondary.”

According to Pogue, the team had to start from scratch and put a lot of emphasis on fundamentals.

“Our goal this spring was to find the best positions for the kids to play in,” Pogue said. “We did a lot of experimenting this spring and we continued that at the spring game except we went against another color jersey just to get these kid’s feet wet and give them a little taste of what it’s going to be like going against someone else. I feel like we accomplished a lot but we still have a lot of work to be done in the summer and will still when August gets here. At times in the spring scrimmage we had five freshmen on the field who will be sophomores in August.

“There is no price tag for experience,” Pogue continue. “You just have to get it. We’re trying to coach them up right now and lay a foundation.”

Pogue told the team after the game there were still positions open.

“There is nothing locked in. We’re still shuffling and working. In the fall we’ll probably have no more than eight or nine seniors at the most that’ll play. We’re going to be kind of like we were in 2009, but maybe more inexperienced.”

Pogue thinks the team will be very talented but inexperienced in the fall.

“We’re going to be a really good football team that’s going to have a chance to be in the hunt for a championship but we took a big hit with the senior class. That was very rare to have that many in a senior class and especially starters.”

South Panola opens the season with two Saturday road games August 20 at West Point and 27 at Hoover before returning home Friday, September 2 for a game with Memphis University School. The Tigers will close the non-conference season at Gulfport High School Saturday, September 10.