Here is an inside look at the 2020 South Panola Tigers football team.
Ricky Woods (fourth season, 28-12 overall)
QB Anterrio Draper
WR Cameron Wright (pictured above; photo by Keith Warren)
DE Tymdarreus Taylor
12-2 (6-1 in Region 1), lost to Oxford in the 2nd round of the North State Playoffs
By anyone else’s standards, the job Ricky Woods has done in his second stint in Batesville has been impressive. But the expectations at South Panola don’t exactly reflect anyone else’s standards.
The Tigers have shown steady improvement in Woods’ first three years back with the program he once led to a 74-1 record and four-straight state titles from 2002 to 2006. After going a combined 16-10 in his first two seasons back, Woods led the Tigers to a 12-2 record last year, eventually losing in the second round to the eventual state champs, Oxford.
The turnaround on offense has been particularly impressive – after averaging 24.3 points in 2017 and 2018, the Tigers averaged 37 points in 2019. Having a tailback like Janari Dean, who signed with Mississippi State following his senior year, doesn’t hurt. But don’t expect there to be much drop-off in 2020.
Woods has some serious talent returning on the offensive side, and at key positions. Quarterback Anterrio Draper was the perfect trigger-man for the run-heavy South Panola offense last year. He’s back for his senior season after rushing for 650 yards and passing for 1,961 with 33 total touchdowns.
He’s looking to build on that performance with the help of one of the state’s best receivers, Cameron Wright. Wright, who committed to Memphis over Ole Miss and Arkansas State, is coming off a solid season in which he averaged 15.1 yards on 39 catches with nine touchdowns.
Senior Martez Clark appears ready to step into the starting role at running back after averaging 8.3 yards on 84 carries in a backup role last year. At 5-foot-6, Clark lacks overwhelming size, but not necessarily strength.
“Losing a guy like Janari Dean, it’s always hard to replace,” Woods said. “But Martez Clark is our guy at running back. He’s smaller, but one of the toughest kids I’ve coached.”
The Tigers will be breaking in some new offensive linemen, but they’ve got options. Sophomore Zemarion Tucker and junior Dorian Baker are both around 6-foot-1 and 295 pounds, and junior Dinoion Stutts played a significant role at right guard last season. Sophomore Javian Hopson has already shown the ability to play both guard and tackle.
“We’ve gotten a little better every year and this year we will be developing during the season,” Woods said. “Anterrio had a really good year for us last year and we will be expecting an even better year this season along with Cameron Wright at receiver.”
On defense, the Tigers return an entire front line that made big strides in 2019. That includes senior hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker Tymdarreus Taylor, junior end Jalen Kerby, and senior tackles Zach Brown and Tra Norwood.
Someone is going to have to fill the void left by Jaqualian Gillespie, who recorded 125 tackles at middle linebacker for South Panola last year before signing with Coahoma Community College. The top candidate is probably senior Jamelvin Webb, who recorded 48 tackles at his outside linebacker position last season.
In the secondary, the Tigers return two of the best cover corners in 6A North in Anterrius Howard and Marquavious Harris.