HS football returns despite record heat – SP Tigers games won’t be shown live this season

Published 5:36 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2023

North Delta School kicked off the high school football season in Panola County last week with a convincing 48-30 win over Indianola Academy on the road.

The Green Wave got four touchdowns from running back Gage Bryant and the bus ride home was a joyous one for first year Head Coach Will Morgan and his players who hope for an improvement over the 2022 season.

North Delta will play at home this week, hosting Benton Academy on the Green Wave campus in a 7 p.m. start.

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South Panola High School will open the 2023 campaign against Houston High School of Memphis at a neutral site. The Tigers will meet their first-game opponents on the campus of Northwest Community College on Friday with a 4:30 p.m. start.

Although heat concerns for players and fans have been discussed across the state this week, there was no announcement of a delayed start time as of press time Tuesday. Heat index readings are expected to be 100 degrees and more at the scheduled kickoff in Senatobia.

South Panola was impressive last week in a scrimmage against Lafayette High School at Tiger Stadium, running the score to 27-7 before both teams began substituting second string players.

Tigers fans will see a major change this season in the broadcast of the football games. Instead of livestream, TigerTV will record the games and broadcast them on Sunday afternoons. The move is part of an overall plan by district officials to draw fans back to the stadium on game nights. 

Attendance has dropped dramatically in the past few years. The Tigers once played before 2,000-4,000 fans regularly before the games were livestreamed. Last year, fewer than 600 tickets were sold for the Homecoming game.

School officials, who hope to have 2,000 fans in the stands for the Oxford game on Aug. 29, were encouraged by the crowd that came for the scrimmage game. Despite the early 5:30 p.m. start and excessive heat, more than 500 fans were in the stands for the preseason game.

In the other football action last week in the county, North Panola High School easily handled Greenwood 22-6 in its preseason scrimmage on Friday at the Cougar Den in Sardis. Dandy Dozen JJ Harrell, one of the mostly recruited players in the state and southeast, did not disappoint fans, picking up big chunks of yardage with each carry.

The Cougars will open the regular season on the road. They travel to Marks to take on the M.S. Palmer Dragons in a 7 p.m. kickoff. There were also, as of Tuesday afternoon, no plans to delay the start of that game.