Top 10 Countdown: No. 3 South Panola

South Panola senior quarterback Anterrio Draper. (Photo by Chris Brooks)

South Panola starts the year ranked No. 3 in our preseason Top 10 following a great 12-2 season a year ago in which they reached the second round of the playoffs. The twelve wins were their most since they last won a state title in 2014 with a perfect 16-0 mark. Ten returning starters, including senior quarterback Anterrio Draper, should have the Tigers in the state championship conversation again.

No. 3: South Panola Tigers

Head Coach: Ricky Woods

2019 Record: 12-2 (Class 6A Second Round)

Starters Returning: Offense: 4 Defense: 6

Players to Watch: QB Anterrio Draper; WR Cameron Wright; RB Martez Clark; DE Tymdarreus Taylor; DL Jalen Kerby; DB Marquavious Harris; DB Anterrius Howard.

Coach Speak: “We’ve gotten a little better every year and this year we will be developing during the season,” Woods said. “Anterrio had a really good year for us last year and we will be expecting an even better year this season along with Cameron Wright at receiver. Losing a guy like Janari Dean will be hard to replace, but Martez Clark will be the guy at running back. He’s smaller but one of the toughest kids I’ve coached. Defensively we have  the entire defensive front back and that will be the strength of the team.”

Outlook: It’s been five seasons since South Panola last won a state championship and the Tigers are eager to end that drought. They return just four starters on offense but return key players in key positions. Anterrio Draper returns at quarterback after throwing for 1,964 yards with 25 touchdowns last year and has his top target back at receiver in Cameron Wright (592 yards, 9 touchdowns in 2019) to lead the passing attack. The running game took a hit with the departure of Janari Dean at running back and the loss of four offensive linemen. Martez Clark will be the running back after rushing for 693 yards with four touchdowns, and adding another six touchdown catches. Defensively the Tigers return the entire defensive front that’ll be led by defensive end Tymdarreus Taylor (47 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 interceptions) along with defensive tackle Jalen Kerby. Defensive back Marquavious Harris and Anterrius Howard will lead the secondary.

Season Opener: Sept. 4 at Cordova (Tenn.).