Spotlight on: South Panola Tigers
Hometown: Batesville, Mississippi
Group: Mississippi 5A
By Ryan Rohde
It has been a long time since the South Panola Tigers last tasted defeat.
It was December 4, 2002 to be exact, when the Tigers fell to Wayne County in the state championship game.
Since that loss nearly six years ago, the Tigers have reeled off 84 straight wins. The streak includes five consecutive state championships and is good for the third longest high school football win streak of all time.
South Panola is commonly referred to as “University of” throughout the state. This is a fitting nickname seeing how the Tigers have an uncanny ability to reload talent year after year.
Take running back Nicholas Parker for example. Parker has taken Mississippi high school football by storm this season. The dynamic running back nearly single-handedly defeated Florida powerhouse Apopka by rushing for four touchdowns in a 28-18 win on Sept. 20. The 6-2, 210 lbs. junior is a prized recruit with Auburn, Ole Miss, and Texas topping his college list.
Although Parker may be an impressive player, the athlete that he replaced might even be more spectacular.
Darius “Tig” Barksdale was named Mississippi’s Mr. Football for ‘07 and was named a Parade All-American. Barksdale broke the class 5A state rushing record with 2,900 yards and 38 touchdowns, which included a 333-yard, four-touchdown performance in the state championship. Barksdale might be the greatest ever in a long list of spectacular players that have attended South Panola.
Of course, it’s near impossible to replace a Tig Barksdale, but at this rate, Parker is leaving his own mark on South Panola football history.
Meanwhile, great players also go hand-in-hand with great coaches, and South Panola has been blessed with some elite ones.
Ricky Woods was at the helm when the Tigers began the streak. He led the South Panola to four state titles in five seasons before taking a different job in Georgia.
Current coach Lance Pogue has continued the winning tradition. In just his first season at the helm, Pogue led the Tigers to their fifth consecutive state title.
"What's going on here won't be done again," said Pogue of the streak in an ESPN.com article on Oct. 3, 2007.
Indeed, Pogue might be right that a streak like this might not happen again, but the run is not over yet.
South Panola nearly saw its streak come to a close this season against a tough Tupelo foe on Oct. 17. The Tigers held on for a 14-13 win after Tupelo failed on a two-point conversion late in the game in an attempt to bring the remarkable run to a close.
It clear to all of the coaches and players, however, that continuing the streak is not the main goal for the Tigers, rather, it’s a state title.
But if one would ask Pogue where win No. 91 would leave them, he would say another state championship.
Up Next: Nov. 7 vs. Desoto Central.
This list excludes South Panola’s current winning streak of 84, good for third all-time.
According to the record book, the top five high school football win streaks are:
1. De La Salle of Concord, Calif., 151 games (1992-2003)
2. Independence of Charlotte, N.C., 109, (2000-2007)
3. Hudson, Mich., 72, (1968-1975)
4. Jefferson City, Mo., 71, (1958-1966)
5. Animas, N.M., 69, (1984-1990)
Got any ideas for our next team spotlight? Contact editor Adam C. Warner at email@example.com.