Coverage Breakdown: South Panola @ Clinton
Players to Watch:
Patrick Shegog: The 2017 Elite 10 member enters his second season as a starter after passing for 1,125 yards and rushing for 434 yards a year ago. He has a group of receivers to work with as well.
D’Jordan Strong: Shegog’s top target at receiver a year ago returns and will be a fun one to watch on both sides of the ball. Last season, he had 639 yards receiving and six scores to go along with 15 tackles and three picks defensively.
Barry Flowers: Last season as an Oxford Charger, Flowers led the team with 655 yards receiving and five touchdowns. Now, as a South Panola Tiger, he gives the Tigers a great down field threat and a great addition to an already talented offense.
Calvin Hankins: He returns as key starter to a very quick and athletic defensive line. Last season, he had 28 tackles and 12 tackles for loss.
Robert Hertz: Hentz enters his senior season as the top returning tackler from a year ago, getting 32 tackles playing defensive tackle.
Clinton quarterbacks: The Arrows are looking to replace a three year starter at quarterback and arguably the greatest to play Mississippi high school football in Cam Akers. It may be tough, but it can be done. We will see either see Madison-Ridgeland Academy transfer Hunter Hulsey or Cam’s backup last season Walker Birchfield behind center. We will find out who is the man going forward on Thursday.
Christian Johnson: Last season, Johnson finished fifth on the team with 452 yards receiving and four touchdowns. This season, he returns as the top returning target in the Arrow’s passing game.
Ronnie Thomas: On the defensive line, Thomas returns after finishing third on the team with 72 tackles and 12 tackles for loss, which ranked second on the team.
Javarius Heard: Heard is another member of a stout Arrow defensive line at the end position. He racked up 20 tackles, eight of them for loss.
Tucker Barefoot: On special teams, Clinton has the edge, returning one of the best kickers in the state going into his junior year. He made seven of eight field goals with a long of 44 yards.
Keys to the Game:
Which team will come out of the gates swinging? The last two meetings between these two schools have featured a huge play right off the bat. In 2015, South Panola’s Demetrius Market began the game and the season with a 95 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. In 2016, the reigning SES Mr. Elite Cam Akers busted loose for a 60 yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage. Those big plays made a statement and made a huge difference in the outcome of the game. If one of these teams can do that again, that team should set the tone for Thursday night.
Which team will tackle better in the open field? Both teams have the capability to make great things happen every time their players touch the ball. South Panola last year had a hard time bringing Cam Akers and Darius Mayberry down when they got in the open field. Things were pretty much the same in 2015 for Clinton when they gave up 427 yards rushing to South Panola. It will be important for both of these teams to tackle well if they want to be successful in this game.
Which team is the more conditioned? It is week one of the 2017 season. The sun is still up when the game kicks off. In a lot of places, it will be over 85 degrees with a lot of humidity in the air. Players will get worn out easy and get cramps if they are not hydrated throughout the game. However, players have gotten used to these conditions in fall camp. The team that is more durable and can withstand harsh conditions should have a significant edge in this game.
Penalties. These can totally dictate the game’s outcome. Week one games historically have had an abundance of penalties usually because players are so eager to hit someone and get after another team and some teams are not completely used to game type situations. Some teams get by having 20+ penalties, but it is rare. Penalties can change any game and this game should be no exception.