South Pike Eagles receive No. 1 nod

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 12, 2002

South Pike has been selected to finish first in the Region 6-4Arace, according to a poll of region head football coaches. TheEagles pulled four first place votes and 34 poll points to edgerunner-up McComb for the honor.

South Pike head coach Greg Wall said he was amused by theresults of the poll. “They (coaches) have put the monkey on Wall’sback again.”

McComb claimed two first place votes and 33 poll points. TheTigers, Class 4A state champions in 2000, lost to Quitman in thefirst rouind of the 2001 state playoffs.

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Lawrence County finished third in the balloting with 24 points.The Cougars, coached by Trent Hammond, finished second in lastyear’s division race and chalked up a 7-4 worksheet. They won thestate title in 1999, going 14-0.

Brookhaven placed fourth in the voting with 21 points. ThePanthers advanced to the state playoffs last year as the No. 4 teamand lost to Northeast Jones in the opening round.

Terry’s Bulldawgs claimed 15 points and were picked to finishfifth. Raymond was sixth with 11 points and Port Gibson last with8.

“It’s always easier to get to the top of the hill than to stayon top,” said Wall. “We are about 10 games away from winning theregion.”

Wall, 55, has been coaching for 32 years. He has coached 27years at South Pike.

“We won it in a tie-breaker last year so we didn’t run away withit,” Wall continued. “Our goal is to win the region first.

“I’ll tell our kids they have been picked first. Maybe that willmake them work harder in practice.”

South Pike exceeded all expecations last year. The Eagles caughtfire in the playoffs and reached the Class 4A state championshipgame before losing to Clarksdale. They posted a 12-3 worksheet.

Last season the Eagles earned first place in the region race onthe strenghth of a tie-breaker system instituted by the MississippiHigh School Activities Association. Lawrence County was second andMcComb third.

There are three new head coaches in Region 6-4: Tucker Peavey atBrookhaven, Wes Slay at Raymond and Jackie Williamson at Terry.

South Pike is returning 12 starters, led by running back JessieBurton and linebacker Joe Taylor.

“We have a lot of skill people returning,” said Wall. “We areshort-handed in the trenches.”

McComb coach Ted Milton said his team has potential but theTigers are young at many key positions, especially on offense. “Weare real young. We only have five or six seniors on the team.”

Slay said Raymond has one of the smallest schools in Class 4Awith just over 500 students. He said there is no establlishedweight training program at Raymond.

Coach Gary Wright of Port Gibson said he was expecting animproved season. “We should have more depth but we don’t have anyexperience on the offensive line.”