Coverage Breakdown: Warren Central @ South Panola
Players to Watch
South Panola Tigers
Patrick Shegog - Shegog has proven to be an effective leader for the Tiger offense this season. Though his completion percentage may not reflect this statement, he really can hurt a defense through the air. After throwing an interception in five of the first six games of the season, he has kept a clean sheet in the last six games, while throwing five scores in that same timeframe.
O’Bryan Goodson - Though he has just one sack on the season, Goodson has brought his fair share of ball carriers down in the backfield. He has multiple tackles for loss in five games this season, including four in the season-opener against Clinton. That skill set will be needed in this contest tonight, as the Vikings will look to run it early and often.
Jamian Johnson - Though USP has a few options to run the football, including quarterback Patrick Shegog, Johnson is the only player with more than 100 rushing attempts this season. On his 147 totes this season he has averaged 4.9 yards each rush, and has also scored four times. He will get plenty of carries tonight and the Tigers need him to get to his 65 yards per game average, at least.
D’Jordan Strong - Strong’s knack for making plays has been obvious this season, on both sides of the ball. Though he might be a bit undersized to man the outside receiver position, he has managed over 14 yards per catch with five scoring receptions this year. On defense he’s tallied three interceptions, 15 pass deflections and a forced fumble.
Eriq Kitchen - Goodson plugs the middle, but Kitchen is the edge rusher that can get to the quarterback. He finished the regular season with 11 tackles for loss and four sacks. However, he also added 39 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. He will need to get in the backfield alongside Goodson tonight to slow down Warren Central’s powerful offensive attack.
Warren Central Vikings
Jesse Wilson - As the signal caller, Wilson is the driving force behind the Viking offense. Twice down the stretch, versus Clinton then Starkville, he threw and rushed for over 100 yards in the same game. Additionally, he has totaled 22 scores on the season - 13 passing and 9 on the ground.
Demarcus Jones - Wilson may be the driving force, but Jones is the alpha of the team. He has rushed for 984 yards, with 14 scores and four 100-yard games, caught for 226 yards and three scores, and intercepted three passes. Last week against a stout, talented Callaway defense he put up his best rushing game of the season with 194 yards and two scores. If that is just a preview of what he can do against the Tigers, the Vikings should be in good shape to advance.
Shaunterrance Walton - Walton has been the most explosive receiver for the Vikings this season. If they do have to do to the air in this game, and I presume they will regularly, then watch out for the senior. He is averaging 15.5 yards per catch and has hauled in eight scores this season. That is impressive along with his 40 catches and 621yards on a team that likes to run it a lot.
Tobias Bruce - When the Tigers go to the air, they better account for where Bruce is lined up. He has made one heck of a season out of getting to the passer. His seven sacks and 10 tackles for loss both lead the team, and he will be counted on to get after Patrick Shegog tonight on passing plays.
Alex Shaw - Shaw is the team leader with four interceptions, and has come up with those picks in some of the biggest games. He tallied two takeaways through the air versus Vicksburg, and another against Madison Central. Additionally he has broken up eight passes and forced three fumbles this season.
Keys to the Game
Can the South Panola receivers step up and help Shegog? In the opinion of this writer, junior quarterback Patrick Shegog has been more than capable of this season through the air, but the Tiger receivers need to step up and make plays down the field. If they can do so in this game, it makes the offense more balanced, therefore, more difficult to defend.
Which team rushes the ball more effectively? The Tigers average just over 180 yards per game on the ground, while the Vikings are going over 260. However, the Vikings have been without their second-leading rusher Joe’vontae Shorter in recent weeks. The team who finds more success on the ground is almost certain to be the victor.
Which defense plays to their strengths better? The Vikings have nine interceptions and 20 sacks this season. Meanwhile, South Panola has stifled division foes, giving up less than seven points per game in division play. Both defenses will aim to make both offenses one-dimensional, and if they are able to do so, the defenses will decide this game.
D’Jordan Strong, ATH, South Panola
I saw Strong this summer at the Fortius Project camp at ICC and his athletic ability has stuck with me. Though he didn’t make too many plays when I saw him against Madison Central earlier this season, I think he has the capability to change what I feel will be a close game. Whether it be making a big catch on offense or picking off a key pass on defense, I feel he will change this game and give his team a victory.
**Photo by Andy Young Photography.