South Panola and Memphis University are two powerhouses with very similar styles. Both teams in this boast prolific running attacks, and are accustomed to 11-win seasons with challenging opponents. The teams have played three times in the last four seasons with the Tigers winning the last two. Memphis University’s win came in 2009 in a 21-19 victory that handed South Panola its only loss of the season during its 14-1 2009 state title run.
Both teams enter Friday coming off hard-earned wins and both teams are paced by young and rising stars. The 2013 Tigers are led by a two-headed rushing attack that has averaged 280 rushing yards per game this season. Junior Darrell Henderson is perhaps the most dangerous offensive weapon heading into this ballgame and has averaged 158.5 yards rushing per game.
South Panola sophomore Oluwain Hoskins has burst onto the scene with about 80 yards per game and, like Henderson, can produce big plays in a variety of ways. In South Panola’s win over North Little Rock (Ark.) last week, Henderson took 26 carries for 170 yards and included an 80-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Rip Kurk completed one pass to Henderson and the junior took it 76 yards for a game-changing touchdown.
Hoskins gained 159 yards rushing on 19 carries and included an explosive 55-yard run and also caught a key pass for 12 yards. Sophomore receiver Cole Rotenberry scored his first touchdown of the season with a 26-yard reception and is one of the many underclassmen responsible for the undefeated Tigers’ impressive start.
Memphis University is led by its pair of junior rushers, Darien Bradburn and Colton Neel. In the Owls’ 30-6 win over Liberty Tech Magnet (Tenn.) last Friday, Neel stole the show with 17 carries for 78 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback James Sexton made the defense think twice about loading the box and went an efficient 14 of 17 passing for 130 yards. The other option at quarterback is senior Blake Bennett, who has completed 12 of 26 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns this season. Wideout Devin Perry hauled in nine catches for 114 yards and a touchdown last week, and has caught all three of the Owls’ passing scores this season.
Defensively, the Owls possess one of the most impressive young prospects in the southeast with linebacker Tim Hart. The sophomore is mature beyond his years on the football field and has produced big-time defensive plays this season. Hart has 46 tackles and has included three forced fumbles a sack and eight tackles for loss in the Owls’ first four games. Hart lives in the backfield and is the exact type of player Memphis University is going to need in order slow down the dangerous South Panola rushing attack.