SP and Olive Branch to clash 10/3/2014

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2014

SP and Olive Branch to clash

By Angie Ledbetter
Tonight the undefeated South Panola Tigers (5-0, 1-0) will take a road trip to Olive Branch Conquistador country for one of the biggest rivalries in 6A north.

Olive Branch will battle it out with the Tigers at Leslie Pool Field at 7 p.m.

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“Olive Branch has been a rivalry here for the last seven or eight years and we’ll get their best shot,” said Tiger head coach Lance Pogue.

Olive Branch (3-2, 0-1) is under new head coach Jeremy Toungett who had been an assistant coach there for the last four years coaching the offensive line. He played at the University of Auburn as an offensive lineman.

“It looks to me like Olive Branch is making a bigger emphasis on running the ball than they have been,” said Pogue. “They’ve been more of a throwing team in the years past. His touch that he’s had an impact on is trying to get where they have a little more running game—so I can see that difference.”

Olive Branch opened the season with a 49-34 loss to Ridgeway High School of Memphis.  They bounced back beating Raleigh-Egypt 37-6 the following week. On September 5 they defeated Charleston 26-16.

They have split the last two games crushing Tunica Rosa Fort 41-6 but ended up in the “loss” column last week when Southaven handed them a 40-21 loss in the district opener.

“In the Southaven game it was tied 14 at the half and it was nip and tuck until fourth quarter,” said Pogue. “It kind of got away in the fourth quarter.”

Olive Branch has scored 159 points, averaging 31.8 per game (ppg.), and allowed their opponents to put up 117 points, 23.4 ppg. They have averaged 173.6 rushing yards per game and 120.6 receiving yards per game.

Meanwhile the No. 2 Tigers have put up 229 points, averaging 45.8 ppg., and allowed 85 points, 17 ppg. The Tigers are averaging 271.6 rushing yards per game and 153.6 receiving yards per game.

The Conquistadors will be under the field leadership of sophomore Mario Nolan-Dillard II, 5’11”, 190 pounds. Nolan-Dillard has completed 40 of 85 passes for 603 yards and seven touchdowns. He has carried the ball 42 times for 46 yards and one touchdown.

“He’s an athletic kid similar to one they had years ago named Todd Mays,” Pogue said. “He can run and throw the ball so he’s capable of making some big plays. We’ve got to do a good job of keeping him contained.”

Junior wide receiver Jay Banks Jr., 6’3”, 190 pounds, has 205 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

Senior running back Dontavis Bruce has carried the ball 42 times for 287 yards and three touchdowns. Junior Donovan Watkins has rushed 38 times for 257 yards scoring twice.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior middle linebacker Willie Bland has 49 tackles and senior linebacker Fred Walls has 37 tackles.

“He’s a really good player and he’s verbally committed to Ole Miss,” Pogue said. “They’ve got some defensive backs also so they’ve got some really good players so that concerns you. You just hope they don’t put it together anytime soon this coming week.”

Rival games always concern a team because they could play somewhat with a mentality of nothing to lose, according to Pogue.

“That’s sometimes tough but I think our kids are gaining confidence, believing in what we’re doing, really having fun now and there’s lots of excitement and energy,” Pogue added.
After playing at home for the last three weeks, Pogue said the team needs to go play on the road again.

“I’m excited about that part because I know when you go on the road it’s a little bit different and we need that challenge again.”

In last year’s contest the Tigers won 40-21 and in 2012 they won 28-14. In 2011 Olive Branch defeated the Tigers 21-6.

The address for the field is 9366 E. Sandridge Road, Olive Branch.