October 8, 2009 10:26:00 AM
Adam Minichino - email@example.com
Tonight or Friday doesn''t matter to Columbus High School football coach Bubba Davis.
Either way, the Falcons were going to have to be ready to play state power South Panola, so why not take care of it one day earlier.
"My feeling is that we will play them right now," Davis said Wednesday morning.
That time change would have been difficult to manage, but the veteran coach made his comments shortly after Columbus High announced it was moving its home game against South Panola scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday to tonight at 7.
Rain is forecast Friday for the greater Northeast Mississippi area, so Columbus and South Panola agreed to move the game up a night to try to beat the poor weather.
Davis hopes the decision will give the Falcons one less thing to worry about because they will face one of the state''s best tonight.
Last week, South Panola rolled to a 34-6 victory against Class 6A, Region 1, District 2 rival Olive Branch before an estimated crowd of 10,000 at Dunlap Stadium and a statewide television audience.
That was the number of points, first downs and (if you add 3) yards in the first half for Olive Branch on Friday night.
It was also the chance the Conquistadors had of ending South Panola''s continued dominance in one of the state''s most prominent football series.
Delivering easily their best performance of the season, the Tigers rolled to a 34-6 Region 1-6A victory before a statewide television audience and an estimated 10,000 at Dunlap Stadium.
The Tigers (5-1, 2-0 region) built a 27-0 halftime lead and used their quickness and strength to control the line of scrimmage, They had 238 yards in the first two quarters.
Domonique Carothers had two touchdown runs, Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen senior running back Nick Parker had another, and Kendrick Market threw a 52-yard scoring pass to Nickolas Brassell.
One thing South Panola won''t have on its side is a streak. Meridian beat South Panola in the Class 5A title game last year to snap the Tigers'' state record 89-game winning streak.
This season, Memphis (Tenn.) University edged South Panola 21-19 on Sept. 4, but Davis knows the Tigers still will present one of the toughest challenges of the season.
"Last week they physically whipped Olive Branch," Davis said. "They lined up and took it to them, and that''s what they normally do. They may be as good as anybody in Mississippi. It is one of those David and Goliath stories again, but you never know what is going to happen."
Despite a 1-5 (0-2 in region) record, Davis might be selling his team a little short. The Falcons have been in all of their five losses and have had plenty of chances to win their last two games against Tupelo and Southaven. Davis hopes the Falcons can eliminate their nagging mistakes and continue to play with the intensity and the effort they have exhibited all season.
"The kids are positive. They are coming in on Sunday and watching the film and trying to correct their mistakes," Davis said. "They see what we see. They know with a play here and there we could have won. In spite of that we have had a good week of practice, and they''re still upbeat and positive. To lose the games they have lost and the fact they have played well has really helped the mentality part."
Davis stressed that the Falcons have improved every week even if the losing streak has climbed to five in a row. He said the coaches are proud of the players'' effort, and they continue to tell them that one week an opponent is going to make all of the mistakes they have been making and the Falcons are going to eliminate theirs.
Davis believes when that happens it will help a team with a talented group of sophomores take an important step.
"We have told these sophomore that two years from now that''s how we''re going to look," said Davis, referring to South Panola. "If there is a program that we want to be like it is them. This will give us a chance to see how much progress we have made. We''re excited to see how far we have come."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.