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ESPN Southern Pride on the Line
August 27, 2011Hoover High School
Southern pride on the line
Watch this matchup of elite powerhouses
Football Kickoff homepage | All-State teams
Two major Southern powers meet for the first time for the start of a two-year home-and-series. The rivalry will be born at Buccaneer Stadium (Hoover, Ala.) as the second part of the stadium’s first ever double-header, set to air on ESPN beginning at noon ET on Saturday Aug. 27.
South Panola ranks 16th with Hoover coming in at 41st overall in the POWERADE FAB 50 preseason poll. Both teams are familiar with playing strong out-of-state opponents. The South Panola Tigers played two teams not from Mississippi last season while Hoover played a "foreign" opponent once in 2010. The Bucs are 6-3 in games played against non-Alabama schools.
Hoover has won eight state championships in Alabama, including an impressive six since 2000. They’ve played in the state title game 11 times and famously had a MTV reality television show called "Two-a-Days" focus on their success and the culture of elite high school football.
The Tigers, for their part, have reigned in their home state for years as well, stringing together an amazing stretch of dominance in which they have gone 133-3 since 2002. This stellar record was buoyed by a Mississippi record 89-game win streak at one point, while they currently take a 28-game unbeaten stretch into Alabama for this deservedly anticipated game.
Some of the new starters must emerge early for the Bucs. Athletic senior signal-caller Sam Gillikin - also a standout in baseball - was injured last year, but was impressive in this year’s spring game. Up front, head coach Josh Niblett has some solid anchors as well with South Alabama-bound Daniel Aust (6-3, 265, Sr.) and Jeremy Boyd (6-3, 265, Sr.).
A new quarterback leads the Tigers offense with touted junior athlete Antonio Conner in the mix. Two Ole Miss recruits, Isaac Gross and Temario Strong, will anchor the lines. Only five starters are back overall for South Panola, but it’s too hard not to respect the Tigers and their impressive winning streak until the team loses.
Hoover top players: ATH Caleb Sims (5-10, 170, Sr.); TE Jaylon Denson (6-3, 200, Sr.); QB Sam Gillikin (6-1, 175, Sr.)
South Panola top players: DL Issac Gross (6-2, 265, Sr.); ATH/QB Antonio Conner (6-2, 195, Jr.); DE Temario Strong (6-1, 204, Sr.)