Cougars welcome Charleston to the grind house tonight 10/24/2014

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 24, 2014

Cougars welcome Charleston to the grind house tonight

By Myra Bean
This time every year, the North Panola Cougars suit up to face district foe Charleston Tigers.
In the past, this game has been a given for Charleston, but two years ago that changed.

“The boys know two years ago we played with them for a half,” said Cougar head coach Derek King. “Last year we played with them for three quarters. Natural progression is this year we play with them for four quarters.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In 2012 North Panola shut out the potent Charleston offense in the first quarter and went ahead 14-0 in the second quarter.

But Charleston knew how to rally and tied the game at 14 at halftime. Then in the second half reeled off 36 unanswered points until North Panola scored late in the fourth quarter.

The Cougars have had some big wins this season starting with 4A Ripley but their momentum took a step backwards when they lost the lead and the game against Water Valley 38-30.
King said last week the team had a mental block when it came to Water Valley that they had to surmount.

The team did not succumb to getting down by the loss but showed up for practice Sunday night.
“Kids understand the sense of urgency. We practiced Sunday night. We hit the sled, hit each other and hit the weights,” King said.

North Panola did not have school Monday due to parent conference so they practiced at 7:30 a.m. and again at 6 p.m. Their plan is to flood Charleston with good things.

“Our kids are still building up a reserve to pull from as far as success is concerned,” King said. “We’ve done better but we have still lost more big games than we have won. It is our job to build in as much success during practices. That is the only option we have. Hopefully, we have enough of that built up to give Charleston a run Friday.”

Charleston (6-2 overall, 3-0 district) has lost this year to 6A Olive Branch and 4A Noxubee County, two of the stronger teams in the state. This point in the season with two games left in the season, counting tonight, the Tigers are looking “awesome,” according to King.

“It is very interesting because we are trying to figure out how to poke holes in something,” King said. “It’s just hard. They are solid. They are fast. They have experience. They have more than one kid who can run quarterback. They’ve got multiple kids who can tote the football. They have depth on defensive line. They can blitz if they want to. They can play good coverage if they want to.”

King asked and answered his own question of does every team have a weakness.

“Absolutely. It’s going to be our job to exploit that weakness and do it consistently for a four-quarter game,” he said.

Charleston is a run-heavy team having ground out 2,264 rushing yards and only 588 passing. They have only scored five passing touchdowns compared to 32 rushing touchdowns.

Leading the Tiger charge is senior running back Ge’vonte Jones (No. 4), 5’11”, 175 pounds, who King said has run through every opponent this year. He scored five touchdowns and rushed for 177 yards against Palmer last week.

Also, Ahmad Alexander is the junior quarterback, wearing no. 10, and who helps anchor the cornerback position.

Dontavius Powell, no. 7, also plays quarterback and outside linebacker.

Allen Spurlock is playing his senior season as running back and middle linebacker. He is 6’0”, 220 pounds and one of the main players on the team. He has 43 total tackles on the season and one reception for 84 yards.

“He is solid, carries the ball well. He’s been there. He takes care of the middle of that field,” King said.

Senior offensive linemen Quenterius Brooks and Javoris Buckley, 50 and 51, their guards are good, according to King.

“They pull well. They are nasty when they pull. They don’t ever find themselves out of place,” he added.

Junior offensive/defensive lineman Walter Barnes, wearing no. 73, moves around on the offensive line and is a versatile kid with good size, according to King.

“As deep as they are, they have a lot of kids that go both ways,” King said. “So I think if we initiate some contact and hit them as hard as they hit some other people, we will get to see how they respond to that. They have more but those are the ones on both sides of the ball bringing it all night.”