NP vs Rosa Fort

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 19, 2011

NP Hunter meets former player across field tonight

By Myra Bean

It is happening more and more these days that players are becoming coaches and playing against their former coach.

It is slated to happen on North Panola’s field tonight as first year head coach Robert Hunter will bump heads with a former Mound Bayou player Ervin Norwood.

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North Panola opens the 2011 campaign at 7:30 p.m. Gates open at 7 p.m. with tickets at $6.

Hunter was the offensive coordinator when the Norwood twins played at Mound Bayou. This will be Hunter’s first time head coaching across from a former player turned head coach.

“Last year when we were at Rosa Fort, Edwin, his brother, sat on our side to support me but cheered his brother on,” Hunter said, laughing. “I think he got in trouble over that.”

Hunter was all praises about the Norwood family, stating they came from a good family, were all good athletes and all finished college.

Immediately, Hunter’s concern went back to his young offensive line in preparation for tonight’s opening game.

Following last Saturday’s scrimmage against Cleveland played in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Hunter changed the blocking scheme.

“We are going to try to block somebody,” he said. “Our biggest problem is the offensive line.”

Hunter emphasized that he only has one returning starter on the offensive line, senior Ronnell Keys, who was out last week for a funeral.
Past the offensive line, Hunter is relatively upbeat about the rest of the team.

“We are pretty solid defensively,” he said. “I think coaches everywhere think their special teams are suspect.”

At Rosa Fort, Norwood is starting his first ever head coaching job. He spent the last two as assistant coach for Rosa Fort and four years before that as assistant at Cleveland High School.

“I feel that my years at Cleveland and Rosa Fort have prepared me for this job and I am ready to get it kicked off Friday night,” Norwood said in a Wednesday telephone interview.

Norwood said his first-time head coaching job is stressful. Rosa Fort is a former district foe of North Panola’s but during realignment North Panola was assigned back to 3-3A while Rosa Fort remains in 2-4A.

Last year’s game was a highly emotional effort for both two teams, but Rosa Fort emerged with a 28-26 victory. North Panola was one minute and 54 seconds from securing its first win of the season, but allowed Rosa Fort to drive the ball down the field and score on a six-yard run to retake the lead with 50.5 seconds left in the game.

Rosa Fort was led by Bernardrick McKinney who has since enrolled at Mississippi State. Norwood described McKinney as a “self-motivator” and a good leader on and off the field. He thinks the returning players learned that from McKinney.

Rosa Fort returns six offense and eight defensive players to this year’s team. Of those, four are sophomores and five are seniors. Last year they started three freshmen on defense.

Norwood said the team will be more fast-paced under his direction. He said that he has depth on the squad and will be able to play more people.

As for the North Panola team game time atmosphere, Hunter said the players are alright.

“We have some good looking kids,” he said. “I like it when we are the underdog. I am looking forward to every game.”