Q&A with South Panola's Anterio Draper
The South Panola Tigers have been on a roll as of late. They started the season 5-0 for the first time since 2015 after defeating the Clarksdale, 39-6, last Friday. The blowout of the Wildcats marks the Tigers 10th-straight regular season win dating back to last season.
Junior quarterback Anterio Draper, who has thrown for nine touchdowns in the past two games, has played a huge role inthe Tigers recent success. I had a chance to talk with Draper about his experience as the singal caller for SPHS.
SES: “You have definitely been a key factor in South Panola’s five-game winning streak as of late. What from this year’s squad do you feel like is different from last year’s?”
Draper: “I feel like our offense is better as a whole compared to the last three years starting with the offensive line. We have finally gotten the passing game rolling to help out our big-time running game.”
SES: “That is what is making South Panola’s offense so versatile since you guys are statistically one of the best rushing teams in the nation. Outside of [Janari] Dean, who do you think has stepped up in theTigers’ offense?”
Draper: “Cam Wright and Martez Clark have stood out to me in the past few games. Ataraie Bobo is the guy that is going to wake everyone up in the future. He’s a sleeper. He gets a lot of people open and blocks his heart out every snap. He’s already making my job easier and his number has yet to be called.”
SES: “South Panola is only one of two 6A schools in Mississippi that is entering week 6 undefeated (Madison Central). I am sure you have been hearing things such as “Is South Panola back?” What is your take on that?”
Draper: “The main thing is just remaining humble throughout the process. I’m beyond thankful for having the opportunity to start as a sophomore [last year]. Fighting adversity as we were young played a big part in our success now. Growing up in Batesville, winning the state championship is just our priority as a football player.”
SES: “Besides winning the state championship, did you make any personal goals for yourself at the start of the season?”
Draper: “[My] main goal is to be a better player every time I get another shot [on the field]. I can honestly say that I take advantage of every opportunity and it kind of shows. Last year, I only had 10 touchdowns through 13 games, now I’m sitting at 16 through 5 [games]. I’m looking for 30 touchdowns and at the least 2,000 yards, but I think the bar will be raised higher.”
SES: “Who is the key factor in your life that you play football for and why?”
Draper: “My grandmother, most definitely. She knew when I was very young that I was going to be a standout in football. All she had to ever see was me run and she could always see me in thepros. Now, I just have to work to make her proud and get there. I also come from a big football family, but they were all defensive standouts.”
SES:” What coach can you say really helpedyou improve your game?”
Draper: “My relationship with Coach [Ricky} Woods. Our wide receiverscoach, Matt Mock, also doesn’t accept being mediocre. He expects nothing but the best from everyone.”
The Tigers will look to tangle with the hornets’ nest as they take on the Starkville Yellowjackets tonight at 7.
Follow Johnathan on Twitter at @JWillSES.