South Panola will bring record streak to WC|[12/03/06]
Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 3, 2006
JACKSON – Sixty down, Warren Central to go.
The South Panola Tigers won their fourth straight state championship Friday night, its 60th consecutive victory.
The Tigers will begin their quest for a fifth straight state championship against Warren Central in the Red Carpet Bowl.
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For South Panola coach Ricky Woods, this year’s title was more of relief than the usual domination. Meridian (11-4) did not fold up its tent like they did last year in getting stomped by South Panola. The Wildcats battled back from a 21-0 deficit to pull within a touchdown twice in the fourth quarter.
“This game was typical of our season. We had a lot of close ones,” said Woods, who won his fifth overall title (he won at Ackerman in 2001) and is now 74-1 in five years at South Panola.
“We had so many injuries this year,” Woods said. “This was only the second game all season where we had the same 11 on both sides of the ball.”
The Tigers will have to replace several skill people and the middle backside of its defense.
One of the key losses will be quarterback Leroy Diggs, the trigger man in the Tigers’ option-I based attack.
“It feels good to win four state championships in a row, but this was a tough game. Meridian battled us the whole way,” said Diggs, who plans on playing next year at Ole Miss along with Tiger senior linebacker Chris Strong.
“I think the key for us being what we are comes from our summer workouts,” Diggs added. “We get our 30 days in and its a pride thing to make all those workouts so that you can get your name on the back of this jersey.”
The key holdover will be running back Darius Barksdale. The rising senior keyed the Tigers running game, taking the first play from scrimmage 84 yards for a touchdown.
The Tigers started three juniors and a sophomore on the defensive line but they will lose all three senior linebackers led by Strong, along with Diggs and Jeramie Griffin who rotated in at safety.
Woods said afterward, he wasn’t thinking about next year.
“I want to enjoy this one for awhile.”