Myra Bean’s column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2011

South Panola manager Devon Sanford helped out Charleston Friday night and poses with Charleston head coach Tony Vance with the North Half Championship trophy. The Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

State championships to feature 11 new teams this weekend

We just couldn’t stand not being at a football game Friday so colleagues Angie Ledbetter, Brad Greer and I made the 25 mile trip south to Charleston.

All week we were trying to decide whether to go north to Olive Branch or south. Finally, we settled on Charleston. We actually tabled the decision for two days before making the final decision Friday afternoon.

No regrets.

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It was a fantastic game with Charleston winning the 3A North Half Championship over tough rival Cleveland East Side 44-34.

Charleston took a  24-0 lead, but East Side kept battling and stayed in the game. East Side actually pulled within two points at one time 24-22.

So the capacity crowd got their money’s worth.

And Charleston will make its first return to the state championship since they lost to Hazlehurst in 2005. Guess what. Hazelhurst is making the trip too. Charleston plans to bring home the title in the 11 o’clock Saturday morning game.

On the staff with head coach Tony Vance is a former South Panola player Kevin Farmer. Farmer also played at Ole Miss. South Panola manager Devon Sanford also donned a Charleston Tiger jersey on the sideline Friday night.

There were a lot of familiar faces who are normally at South Panola games who cheered on Charleston Friday night and I am sure they appreciated it. Many Charleston residents work in Panola County so they wanted to see a little about their team in The Panolian. However, Charleston has a great paper in the Sun Sentinel so we are not trying to steal any of their thunder.

Congratulations also go to our neighbor to the east, Lafayette County, who is the only state championship team from last year returning to defend its title. Better yet, Lafayette is the only returning team who played in the state championship last year. They hold the longest win streak in the state with 31 games.

What to say about Olive Branch? They still have to go through Batesville to get to Jackson. Petal beating Meridian was quite a surprise to many pollsters who had Meridian ahead of Olive Branch the whole season. It has been discussed the 6A championship will be a matchup of two of the best quarterbacks in the state.

By the way, this is the third year of the 6A title game and the first time South Panola nor Meridian will be a part. Olive Branch and Petal are making their first ever state championship appearance.

From 1A north, Shaw will play at 11 a.m., Friday and in 2A West, Bolivar returns to the state championship after winning it in 2007 and will play at 3 p.m., Friday. Friday night is the 6A title game at 7. Saturday, the 4A championship game, which pits Lafayette against Laurel, starts at 3 p.m. Saturday night the last game between 5A Starkville and Picayune begins at 7.