SBLive is previewing the top high school football teams in Mississippi ahead of the fall 2021 season. Here is an inside look at the 2021 South Panola Tigers.
Head Coach: Ricky Woods (10th year, 110-16 overall)
Last Year: 8-3 overall (5-2 in Region 2), Lost in the first round of 6A North playoffs
RB D’mariun Perteet
LB Montrell Chapman
DL Jalen Kerby
The South Panola Tigers have won just one playoff game since winning it all in 2014. They came close to claiming another one last season despite limping into the playoffs with a battered and beat-up squad, but couldn’t quite pull it off against Hernando. This year, the Tigers have a legitimate chance to bounce back and contend for a 6A title.
Like most teams across the state, South Panola had to throw a lot of new players in the fire last season.
“We’re excited to get back full time,” Tigers coach Ricky Woods said. “We had a pretty normal summer, even though I don’t know how long it’s going to last. Felt good not having to cancel practices and send people home.”
More changes came in the coaching staff, shifting some around while bringing in familiar faces as well. Notably, South Panola legend, Ole Miss All-American and NFL veteran John Jerry joined the staff this offseason. Jerry is one of three coaches on staff that played for Woods during his first stint in Batesville from 2002 to 2006.
“They know the community, they have an invested interest here. We all have connections here,” Woods said.
South Panola will have six offensive starters back from a year ago, with a traditional Tiger tailback who can steal headlines. D’mariun Perteet proved that he can be that next great bell cow running back after rushing for 871 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2020, averaging 6.2 yards per carry.
Look for Perteet to take a big weight off the shoulders of his quarterback, likely David Hubbard. Personnel issues forced Hubbard into the starting role midway through last season. He played hurt, but didn’t complain and did his job, throwing for 649 yards and five touchdowns in six games.
Cam Wright is gone, but the team’s second-leading receiver, John Blockmon, returns after a 250-yard season. Look for Ethan Johnson to get an expanded role as well out wide. Woods believes that there are about five other guys that have a chance to see significant action there as well.
Defensively, look for strength to be found in the front seven, especially early in the season. Montrell Chapman, T.J. Cotton, Antoine Wright and Jalen Kerby make up a deadly combination in that area of the field, while Khalik Boothe and Tiram Wadlington look to anchor the secondary. Wadlington could also be called upon to contribute on offense as well.
Unfortunately, the Tigers will have to wait an additional two weeks to play their first game after the school district decided to move to online learning for the time being. The Tigers are currently scheduled to open their season on Sept. 10, when they travel to Cordova, Tennessee.
(Lead photo by Keith Warren)