Panola athletes among state’s best, fun to watch

Published 4:34 pm Thursday, May 16, 2019

Sports View

By Brad Greer

With the 2018-19 school year almost at its end, another exciting  sports season in Panola County, as always, seems to have flown by.

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Everything started in the fall as we watched K.J. Jefferson, who no doubt is the best quarterback in the 12 years I’ve been covering football, become North Panola’s all-time leading passer in school history and led the Cougars to a second straight North State appearance.

We also got to see the emergence of possibly the next star running back at South Panola as junior Janari Dean rushed for more than 2,000 yards in his first year of varsity football.

With 10 division one offers already on the table and certainly more to come, look for Dean to be one of the most sought after players in the state this upcoming fall.

With winter approaching it was time to move indoors for basketball where North Panola hotshot freshman guard Cedquavious ‘ Dey-Dey’ Hunter led the Cougars to another post season birth.

While teammates Mario Fenner and Akeryon Gross were throwing down dunks, Hunter was raining down long range jumpers from downtown Sardis.

With Gross and Hunter both returning, the Cougar Den should be rocking again this year. Want to have fun? Go to the Cougar Den for a game next season. It’s kind of small, but they pack it out and it’s a great basketball time.

While we’re on the subject of stone cold killers on the hardwood, North Delta sophomore Ally Alford surpassed the 2,000 point club in early November in a win over Marshall Academy.

And to think opponents (and coach Nickle) have to put up with Alford for two more years.

As spring finally arrived so did baseball, and what a season it turned out to be.The South Panola Tigers claimed a district championship while setting a school record with 22 wins.

But what really impressed me was the excitement for the game that was shown by the North Panola baseball team.

In their second year after reinstatement of the program, the Cougars won eight games with mostly a roster full of eighth and ninth graders.

Next year will be tough for North Panola as they prepare to move into district, but remember this – who ever thought the Cougar football team six years ago would be where they are now.

There were three individual state championships brought back to Panola County as North Panola’s Jaylen Gipson won his powerlifting class while North Delta’s Caroline Parnell won the MAIS AAA long jump and Colin Hartman captured the AAA boys single’s tennis title.

One program on the rise is the South Panola track and field team. Under the guidance of first year head coach Montez Griffin, they sent 10 participants to North State.

North Panola continued its strong track program by sending four tracksters to the 3A state meet.