JACKSON — South Panola and 11 more MHSAA football teams had plenty of reason to celebrate after their victories this past week.
Still, you can bet Tigers coach Lance Pogue wasn’t the only one providing his team a postgame reminder.
“This is a good football team, but our job is not finished,” Pogue said, his voice booming moments after the 36-21 victory in Batesville that ended top-ranked Madison Central’s season. “We left one on the field in Jackson last year. Taking nothing away from Meridian, we felt like we could’ve won the game.
“We can enjoy this for a little while, then it’s time to get ready for the next one.”
South Panola (13-1) faces Oak Grove (11-2) for the first Class 6A state title at 7 p.m. Friday at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson.
It’s championship weekend’s marquee game and a rematch of the 5A final in 2003, won by South Panola 33-14 for the first of five consecutive titles — a streak that ended with a 26-20 overtime loss to Meridian in last year’s title game.
Oak Grove features a pass-oriented offense with several Division I-caliber players, including receiver duo of Steve McNair Jr. and Robert Johnson. The Warriors advanced to Jackson with a 27-6 victory over Ocean Springs.
South Panola won’t be the only team trying to go one step further than 2008.
Tylertown (14-0), which lost to Louisville in last year’s 3A final, faces Aberdeen (13-2) for the 3A championship Saturday at 11 a.m.
In 5A, ninth-ranked West Point (13-1) meets Wayne County (11-3) Saturday at 7 p.m. The Green Wave are aiming for their sixth state championship and first since 2005. The War Eagles, meanwhile, won the third of their three championships in ’06.
In 4A, Lafayette County (14-1) plays St. Stanislaus (13-1) and record-setting quarterback Dylan Favre on Saturday at 3 p.m.
In 2A, two-time state champion Ackerman (14-0) plays Bassfield (13-2), which is seeking a fourth state crown but first since completing a three-peat in 1986, on Friday at 3 p.m.
In 1A, Durant (13-1) meets Mount Olive (9-5) Thursday at 7 p.m. Both programs have won one state championship.
Todd Kelly/The Clarion-Ledger