• John Macon Gillespie

GoW: The Ground Game

It is rare through three weeks of action that South Panola and Madison Central would only have two combined wins. However, as it is the Jaguars have actually been impressive. And the Tigers have the appearance of being a good team in the second half of the season. Both teams have played a tough schedule so far, as USP lost to number one ranked Clinton and MC has a loss to third-ranked Brandon.

These two teams have been tested and they are tough. Both are looking to go on a run to make sure their record matches their talent. So this win is big and expect the effort from both teams to reflect that. They physicality and explosiveness of the running game could decide this one. For South Panola, it has been their strength so far. For the Jags, the running game has to improve.

South Panola has averaged nearly 195 rushing yards per game so far this season, after they averaged just over 255 a season ago. Three different ball carries have scored on the ground and three different guys have in excess of 100 yards already this season.

Jamian Johnson leads the team in carries, yards per carry and yards on the ground. He has tallied 259 yards on 43 carries, good for six yards per carry, and he has scored once.

Meanwhile, JaMichael Robinson has rushed for another 142 yards, 4.6 per carry, and has gone over 100 yards in one game. Signal caller Patrick Shegog has been more effective on the ground than through the air. He has totaled 134 yards on 38 carries with two rushing touchdowns.

On the other hand, running the ball has not been the strength of the Jaguars. That has been on the shoulders of quarterback Jack Walker. However, the running game has playmakers, too, and if they can get going it could certainly help MC’s star signal caller. So far this season, the Jags are averaging just under 80 yards per game.

Cedric Beal is expected to be the man of this group of rushers for MC, however, he’s only toted it 14 times for 59 yards this season. He does lead the team with 4.2 yards per carry, but he has yet to score.

Gabe Short is the leading rusher for the Jags so far this season. He has totaled 167 yards and one score on 48 carries. His 83.5 points per game is higher than the team average.

Even though USP has been effective on the ground, they would like for their ball carries to take more of that load, so Shegog can get it going through the air more. And MC must wake up their rushing attack to help out Walker. So it is easy to see just how important the rushing game is for both teams and especially both quarterbacks. If the rushing game comes up big this week, look for this to be a really, really good game.

**Madison Central photo by Keith Warren of the MHSAA.

**South Panola photo by Andy Young.

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