South Panola, Germantown joining Region 2-6A in football

Published 7:55 am Friday, November 2, 2018

Region 2-6A has gained a reputation as the toughest high school football league in Mississippi. That isn’t changing any time soon. If anything, it appears to be getting even better.

South Panola and Germantown will join Warren Central in Region 2-6A for the 2019 and 2020 football seasons, under the Mississippi High School Activities Association’s realignment plan released Wednesday.

The two schools will replace Provine and Northwest Rankin. Provine is moving down to Class 5A. Northwest Rankin — which had been in Region 2-6A since 2005 — is shifting to South Mississippi’s Region 3-6A.
Germantown is moving up from Class 5A and has made the playoffs for five consecutive seasons. South Panola is one of the most storied programs in Mississippi, with 11 state championships on its resumé.

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The other schools in Region 2-6A are Warren Central, Clinton, Greenville, Madison Central, Murrah and Starkville. Starkville and Madison Central are ranked Nos. 4 and 5 respectively, in this week’s Associated Press Class 6A poll.

WC’s last meeting with South Panola was in the 2016 playoffs, and before that it was the 2007 Red Carpet Bowl. The schools have only played five times, with four of those meetings coming in the postseason. Warren Central has never played Germantown, which opened in 2011.

Even with the loss of Northwest Rankin, which has already clinched the region title heading into the final week of the regular season, Warren Central football coach Josh Morgan said Region 2-6A will maintain its notorious quality and depth.

“It got tougher,” Morgan said with a chuckle. “Something that was probably the toughest district in Mississippi just got tougher. Significantly tougher. Germantown is growing and getting bigger and bigger, and South Panola certainly needs no introduction.”

Besides being a perennial state power, the addition of South Panola also adds another long road trip to the schedule. Morgan noted, however, that that’s a bigger issue for South Panola than most of the league’s teams that are based in and around the I-20 corridor.

Having Starkville and, previously, Columbus in Region 2-6A also has acclimated teams to some of the travel, he said.

“That’s definitely a tough road trip for a team, but it’s tougher on them because they have to do it multiple times and we only have to do it once,” Morgan said. “It’s something we all have to adapt to.”

South Panola had been a member of North Mississippi’s Region 1-5A or 1-6A since the current alignment format was started in 1984.

Rapid growth in Desoto County changed that, however. Six Desoto schools were among the state’s 32 largest that comprise Class 6A. That left 11 Class 6A high schools located north of the Jackson metro area and only eight slots available per region.

Starkville remained in Region 2-6A, and Germantown was an easy replacement for Provine. Three geographical orphans — South Panola, Oxford and Tupelo — remained, and South Panola was picked to come south.

Morgan said adding South Panola seemed the most logical of several possible realignment scenarios because of Batesville’s location along I-55 that makes it more accessible for teams traveling north.

“I was made aware of several scenarios. This was one we knew about. One was us going south, and another was putting Tupelo in our region,” Morgan said.

The exchange of two new teams will also lead to a shake up of Warren Central’s schedule for the near future. Morgan said he hopes to keep Northwest Rankin as a non-region opponent after the teams built a competitive rivalry over the past 13 years. Northwest Rankin will also have a couple of holes to fill in its non-region schedule since its county rivalry games with Brandon and Pearl will now be league contests.

Morgan was less sure how the region schedule would look. The league’s coaches and athletic directors will meet in December to determine whether the two newcomers will simply take over the schedules of Provine and Northwest Rankin, or to redraw the schedule from scratch.

“Several years ago we redid it when we had a couple of new teams come in. I don’t know how we’ll do it this time,” Morgan said.

While Warren Central’s region is getting a makeover, Vicksburg High’s is largely staying the same. Provine will join Region 2-5A as a replacement for Germantown, but the lineup for 2019-21 will otherwise remain in its current state.

Region 2-5A will continue to include Vicksburg, Callaway, Cleveland Central, Canton, Holmes County Central, Ridgeland and Neshoba Central.

Region 2-6A

Warren Central
*South Panola
Madison Central
*New to the region
Moved out: Provine, Northwest Rankin

Region 2-5A
Neshoba Central
Cleveland Central
Holmes County Central
*New to the region
Moved out: Germantown

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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