Two of the nation's biggest high school football powers will square-off in week three of the CSS High School Football Game of the Week as the Hoover (AL) Bucs travel to Batesville, MS to play the South Panola Tigers Friday, 7:00 p.m. CT. South Panola is already 1-0 on the season after defeating West Point 12-10 on a last second FG two weeks ago. The Tigers who were off last weekend are 3 in the MaxPreps overall Mississippi rankings. This will be the season-opener for Hoover with the Bucs opening their schedule 1 in the MaxPreps overall Alabama rankings.
These two teams have arguably been the most dominant programs in their respective states over the last decade. South Panola was National Champion in 2010 (MaxPreps, USA Today and Rivals) and the Tigers have won a Mississippi record 9 state titles. Until losing to Madison Central (who was a 24-8 winner over Starkville in last Friday night's CSS Game of the Week) in the 2011 state quarter-finals, South Panola had appeared
in nine straight state championship games since 2001, winning seven times. The Tigers are led by sixth year head coach Lance Pogue, who has guided South Panola to the state championship game in four of his first five seasons with 3 titles.
Hoover has played in 15 Alabama state championship games winning seven times (7-7-1 overall) with six of those seven coming since 2000, including four in a row (2002-05). However the Bucs have lost four of their last five state title game appearances, the last two coming by just one point, including a dramatic 35-34 defeat vs. biggest rival Prattville last December when the Bucs two-point conversion came up short with just 47 seconds
left in the game. Hoover's last state championship came in 2009 vs. Prattville under the direction of Head Coach Josh Niblett, who has guided the Bucs to four straight championship game appearances.
Recruit Watch: The senior headliner in this game is South Panola's 4-star Tony Conner. He is the 1 rated prospect in Mississippi, 2 rated safety in the country and the 24 overall player in the nation according to the 247 Sports Composite rankings. His offers include all 14 SEC teams and pretty much every big-time program in the nation. His top four schools are Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State and Ole Miss but says he will not announce his decision until the Under Armor All-American Game in January.
South Panola also boasts 3-star Deon Mix who committed to Mississippi State in June. Mix is the 6 prospect in Mississippi and the 35 OT in the nation according to the 247 Sports Composite rankings. He chose the Bulldogs over 22 other offers.
On the Hoover side of the ball, you will see one of the top juniors in the nation in 5-star Marlon Humphrey. He is the son of former Alabama RB legend and NFL standout Bobby Humphrey and his brother Maudrecus is a WR at Arkansas. Marlon is the 247 Sports 1 prospect in Alabama for the Class of 2014, the 2 rated CB in the nation for that class and also the 8 overall national prospect. His cache of offers includes Alabama, Auburn,
Clemson, Georgia, Michigan State, Mississippi State, North Carolina and Tennessee. This summer he won the AAU National Championship in the 110m hurdles setting a new record of 13.97 seconds in the 15-16 year-old division.
The Bucs also have ILB Jamal Lucas, who committed to Southern Miss in June over Mississippi State and UAB.
This will be the second straight season these two programs have played with the Bucs defeating South Panola 24-13 last year in Hoover, AL on ESPN.