• John Macon Gillespie

Catching Up With D'Jordan Strong

SES: Talk about your team at this point in the season. It seems like y’all are a completely different ball club after week two against Brandon. Is it safe to say that your team is peeking at the right time?

Strong: Yes sir. We lost three key starters after that Brandon game, then lost another starter going toward the end of division play. We just stayed with it and stayed focused. Our coaches stay on us to every week to get better. Once we started believing in each other and in our coaches, it’s been different and better every since.

SES: Talk about your performance personally this season. Is it safe to say the full time role at safety has benefited you as a player? What areas have to excelled at this season and where do you see improvement?

Strong: Most definitely. When I first got moved to safety, I was confused because I was so used to corner, but Coach M.D (Jennings) worked with me and I've just been improving every week at it. My man coverage last season, I wasn’t great at man coverage, but now I think I’m really good at all thanks to Coach Farmer, Coach M.D, and my MS grind coaches.

SES: Talk about your team’s mindset going into Madison Central. Y’all are in a situation very familiar to years past, being in the playoffs, but y’all are the underdogs on paper, being the third seed. Does that provide some sort of motivation? Talk about what this game means as a whole, having played Madison Central six times in the playoffs in the past decade.

Strong: Redemption. My sophomore year, we were undefeated. We beat those guys the first time we played them 24-0. So i was 100 percent sure that we were going to get them again, but they beat us and it destroyed me inside for months that they beat us again in the regular season last season 21-19. So being able to get those guys again motivated me this whole week, knowing we can get at those guys again. It’s going to be a great night. I've been telling my teammates all week that this is a great start to bring the South Panola mentality back.

SES: Talk about what South Panola football means to the city of Batesville and Panola County as a whole. Is there any sort of pressure riding on your team, particularly the seniors this season because the 2018 class has the possibility of being the first class of football players since 2002 to never earn a championship ring?

Strong: It means a lot to this town. They want us to be the best, not second nor third, they want us first because playing for South Panola, losing isn’t something you do here. When I first found out that we could be the first class since '02 without a state championship, that’s a lot of pressure. Our coaches told us that first week of the offseason. We had the mindset that winning the state championship happens during the offseason and we are going to show it off now. It’s the fourth quarter of the season and we don’t plan on losing it either!

SES: Talk about that pick-six last week against DeSoto Central. How did that feel? Is it fitting that your only interception of the season ended up with points on senior night?

Strong: It felt great because playing corner and safety, no one notices you if teams aren't throwing your way. I just knew I was going to get one, and I did. It felt great, and to score it on senior night, that was the icing on top.

SES: If you had to listen to any song before taking the field, what would it be and why?

Strong: Made It From Nothing by Meek Mill, because everybody doubted us and thought we wouldn’t be as good as we are now.

SES: What’s something most people would be surprised to learn about you?

Strong: One, I’m addicted to History. In my spare time, I read about stuff that happened years ago from the Dark Ages to the Cold War. I love History. I listen to Imagine Dragons and Coldplay and act like I’m in a big game situation to make a play. I go outside and imagine things like that only if nobody is around. I would be out for hours until I outwork myself. I’m a NBA geek. I probably know more about the NBA then a couple analysts on ESPN. I love basketball and know the history behind it.

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