• John Macon Gillespie

Shegog Not Looking To Make History

For most teams, finishing with seven wins and getting a playoff berth would be considered good accomplishments, not so much at South Panola, finishing 7-6 is considered a disappointment. The Tigers failed to win 10 games for the second time in the last 15 years, the Tigers also went one-and-done for the second year in a row. Junior quarterback Patrick Shegog learned a lot in his first year as a starter. Now that 2016 is in the rear view mirror, Shegog is ready to get back to work to do what a decade’s worth of Tigers before him have done, hoist the gold ball.

“Coming into the season, we had a lot of rebuilding to do. We lost 33 seniors and we had to replace a lot of people,” Shegog told SES Mississippi. “We plan on doing great things my senior year and going out on top.”

In Shegog’s first game as a starter, he showcased his laser arm against Clinton by throwing a gorgeous, accurately thrown pass to D’Jordan Strong for a 46 yard touchdown to get South Panola on the board for the first time that season. Although he only had 130 yards passing that game, a lot of potential was shown for him to be a good polished passer in the future. Shegog finished the season completing 89 of 195 passes, throwing for 1,125 yards and 11 touchdown passes.

“In the first game I was a little nervous, but I went out there and did pretty good. We didn't come up with the win, but throughout the whole season, I feel like I've matured each and every game especially towards the end,” Shegog said.

Shegog also proved to be a good runner this season, ranking third on the team with 434 yards rushing and five scores. Shegog rushed for a season high 122 yards in a playoff loss to Warren Central.

Shegog returns the majority of his targets from last season, including his best connection, D’Jordan Strong, who finished last season with 639 yards. His other two wide receiver targets Kanoda Lewis and John Railey return after both receiving for 146 yards each. Jameel Thompson returns after getting 92 yards last season.

Shegog will be under new leadership in his senior season. While that leadership may be new to him, the leadership is nothing new to the South Panola football program. Ricky Woods returns to Batesville after having a remarkable 74-1 record at USP and won 60 games in a row to finish his tenure there along with four consecutive state titles. Woods also experienced success in the state of Tennessee and Arkansas, he also coached on the junior college level at Northwest Community College. More recently, at Starkville High School, he won a 6A state title in 2015. Woods will look to repeat the success he had at his former school.

“I like Ricky Woods a lot,” Shegog said. “He came and got me out of class and talked to me when he came down here. I met him and his wife, they are two good people. We plan on winning a lot of games like we did when he was previously here. Everyone around here loves him, no one is mad about who we hired.”

Woods replaces Lance Pogue, who also had enormous success at USP. Pogue finished with a 126-17 record, five state titles, and the only national title in Mississippi high school football history. Pogue also pushed the win streak that Woods started to 89 games, which currently stands as the third longest in high school football history. Pogue left Shegog better as a leader than he founded him.

“He taught me how to be a good leader and to speak up more,” Shegog said. “Ive gotten a lot more vocal than I used to be.”

South Panola last won a state championship in 2014. It has been since 2001 that South Panola has not made it past the first round prior to 2015. It is safe to say there is a lot of pressure riding on this upcoming season according to Shegog.

“If we don't win a playoff game next year, we will be the first class in a while to not make it past the first round. I don't want to go out like that, being known as one of the worst people to not even win a playoff game. We will also be, or at least the senior class, one of the first classes in a while to never get a ring, period. I don't want to experience that,” Shegog said.

Shegog and company will be going hard this offseason to bring a gold ball back to Batesville.

“Next year, we plan on winning it all."

**Photo by Andy Young Photography

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