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South Panola Football National Champions

December 22, 2010
By David Bannister of South Panola High School

South Panola earns National Championship

The biggest challenge for the South Panola High football team in Batesville, Miss., came the past two weekends.

When it wasn’t playing.

South Panola wrapped up its undefeated 15-0 season on Dec. 3 with an overpowering 28-7 victory over Meridian High in the Mississippi Class 6A state final.

It then had to wait and watch other states – the traditional power states where the national champion usually comes from – finished up their postseasons, wondering if a school there would be impressive enough to knock South Panola off the top spot in the RivalsHigh Top 100 rankings.

“We were nervous,” South Panola coach Lance Pogue said. “We were hoping that finishing our season two weeks ago wouldn’t work against us.”

It didn’t.

South Panola held off its four biggest challengers – Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas, Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle and Rock Hill (S.C.) Northwestern – to win its first national championship. Last year’s national champion, Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep, finished sixth.

“We are very excited,” Pogue said. “It was my goal when I came here in 2007 to take this program to the national level and win a national title. It is very rewarding for the team and the town.”

South Panola is no stranger to success inside its own boarders – winning a state title in eight of the past 10 seasons. And it has been on the national scene for a while, finishing No. 28 in 2008 before improving to No. 11 last season.

“Obviously we had high hopes entering this season,” Pogue said. “We brought back 19 starters from last year’s state championship team and a lot of those kids were very talented.”

The team, which took over the top spot on Aug. 30, was never really challenged on the field, outscoring its opponents 687-117.

Its closest game – a 24-13 victory over Olive Branch in the state quarterfinals, marked the only time it didn’t win by three touchdowns or more.

“We beat them pretty good earlier in the season, but we knew the second time around it would be more difficult,” Pogue said. “That is a rivalry game for us and those guys have their pride. Our kids had a hard time getting energized for the game and it nearly cost us.”

Running back Qyen Griffin led the team with 2,670 yards and 37 TDs. He averaged over 9 yards per carry. But he wasn’t the only star.

Nickolas Brassell is the No. 1 ranked college prospect in the state and shined on both sides of the ball as a wide receiver, safety, and the team’s primary return man. Playmaker Kendrick Market was the Tigers’ best cornerback and a change-of-pace quarterback who could come in to spark the offense when needed.

And then there’s the defense, which gave up more than 13 points in a game only once all season – and that came against Georgia Class AAAA runner-up Colquitt County with the majority of those points coming after South Panola took a 30-7 lead in the first quarter and pulled its starters.

It is the first national championship on any level won by the state of Mississippi – something that’s not lost on Pogue.

“Sometimes we get overlooked in high school football because we aren’t Florida, Texas or California,” he said. “A lot of that has to do with population and we can’t control that. They have a lot of good teams, but they are going to because of size, but percentage wise we are right there with the best of them.”

Here’s a look at how the other 99 teams shook out:

Share your opinion the final rankings: on the converstaion thread.

1South PanolaBatesvilleMS15-01
 National Champion. Mississippi Class 6A State Champion: The Tigers ascended to the top of the rankings at the end of August and were able to hold off a late charge from several teams from power state to claim the title.
2St. Thomas AquinasFt LauderdaleFL15-03
 Florida Class 5A State Champion: The Raiders could give any team in the country fits with its physical defense and balanced offense. It cleaned house in its class.
3St. EdwardLakewoodOH15-02
 Ohio Division I State Champion: The Eagles played the most difficult schedule in the nation and navigated it without a blemish.
4De La SalleConcordCA14-012
 California Open Division Champion: The Spartans left no doubt as to which team was the best in California this year rolling Pac-5 champion, Servite, in the Open Division Bowl. A win over Nevada champion Bishop Gorman ends the year as the best out-of-state win.
5NorthwesternRock HillSC15-04
 South Carolina Class 4A Division II State Champions: National Player of the Year favorite, Justin Worley, led the Trojans to a state title beating Greenwood, 42-10. Worley threw for over 5,000 yards and 64 touchdowns this year, beating five ranked teams in the process.
6Don Bosco PrepRamseyNJ12-08
 New Jersey Non-Public Group IV State Champion: A season after winning a national championship, Don Bosco will end in the Top 10. The Iron Men downed rivals Bergen Catholic, 37-27 for the state crown.
 Texas Class 5A Division I State Champion: Not enough respect was paid to Pearland (which was the No. 44 team in the Texas preseason rankings) until it had to beat Katy and Trinity to win the state title. A fantastic run to the schools first state title.
 Trinity fought hard and was on the cusp of a claim for a national title. The team was so good that Pearland only made two mistakes in the Texas 5ADI finals and it almost cost it the game. Trinity was by-far best one-loss team in the country.
 North Carolina Class 4AA State Champion: One of the best years in Butler history ended with a state title. With the number and quality of returning juniors and sophomores, there could be two more state titles very soon.
10BinghamSouth JordanUT13-014
 Utah Class 5A State Champion: The Miners rolled through Utah this season. With a team loaded with Division I talent, this Bingham squad could have played with any team in any state.
11Wheaton Warrenville SouthWheatonIL14-010
 Illinois Class 7A State Champion: The Tigers finish the year as the top team in Illinois, defeating Lake Zurich in the title game.
 Alabama Class 6A State Champion: Under the radar for much of the season, Daphne made an impressive run through the state tournament and ended with a 7-6 win over Hoover.
 Arizona Class 5A Division I State Champion: The Huskies began and ended the season as the top team in Arizona.
14Miami CentralMiamiFL15-121
 Florida Class 6A State Champion: The Rockets used an amazing championship performance by Devonta Freeman to win the first state title in Central history. The team ends the year No. 2 in Florida.
 Hoover played a fantastic schedule and proved to be one of the elite programs in the nation. A solid season ended with a 7-6 loss in the Alabama Class 6A state finals.
 Colorado Class 5A State Champion: The Mustangs had one of the best defenses in the nation and it flexed its muscles all year, only allowing 89 total points against it.
 Louisiana Class 5A State Champion: The Wreckin' Rams were one of the hottest teams in the country come December. It had to forfeit four games so the 10-5 record is decieving; it should be 13-1.
 Virginia Division V State Champion: The Phantoms used a dominating defense to take home another state title. The team only allowed 80 points all season.
 The Cowboys had one of the best teams in the country and nearly knocked off Trinity in what may be one of the best high school football games of all time.
20West MonroeWest MonroeLA14-124
 The Rebels came up just short against Acadiana in the state final, losing 21-14. The season was still a good one and the team proved to be a Top 25 team.
21Dr. PhillipsOrlandoFL14-16
 One of the most talented teams in Florida made it to the state finals before falling to Miami Central. It was still a Top 25 season for the Panthers.
 One of the better defenses in the country was worn down by one of the best teams in the country. Meridian lost to South Panola in the Mississippi Class 6A state final.
 Florida Class 3A State Champion: The Dragons high flying pass offense set plenty of Florida state records on its way to the title and a Top 25 national ranking.
 Katy was oh-so-close in its loss to Pearland in the Region 3 finals. With Pearland winning the state title it boosts the stock of Katy back into the Top 25 nationally.
25HarrisonFarmington HillsMI13-026
 Michigan Division 2 State Champion: Harrison was a latecomer onto the scene but made a solid run through the playoffs, downing Lowell in the state final, 38-28. And to settle any debate, it has a win over the Division I state winner, Lake Orion, on its resume as well.
 California Division II Bowl Champion: Folsom was able to avenge its early season loss to Grant and then beat Serra in the Bowl game.
27Bishop GormanLas VegasNV13-236
 Nevada Class 4A State Champion: The Gaels had a very solid season led by underclassmen. The state title was expected and it delivered.
28Palo AltoPalo AltoCA15-0NR
 California Division I Champion: Paly helped steal a ton of respect for NorCal by defeating Corona Centennial in the mud. The team had several quality wins in the regular season and playoffs but downing the Huskies was the signature win it needed.
 Florida Class 2A State Champion: Playing without its marquee player, Chevelle Buie, for the last two weeks of the season, Cocoa proved more than it did when playing with him. Consecutive wins at Madison County and against Glades Central legitimized this program.
 The Huskies fell in the Division I Bowl game in a monsoon. The offense was never able to get in sync and it cost the team a chance to argue for the best team in California.
 After a grinding run to a Pac-5 title the Friars came up against one of the best teams nationally in its Open Division loss to De La Salle.
 The Hurricane season ended with a disappointing loss in its Class 5A semifinal to St. Thomas Aquinas. Injuries derailed what could have been, but the season was still very good for a team that entered with a lot of question marks.
 Ohio Division V State Champion: Led by Ohio Mr. Football Akise Teague, Ursuline won its third-straight state title.
34Stony PointRound RockTX14-131
 The Tigers season ended in the Texas Class 5A Division I semifinals with a loss to Trinity. Its playoff run was impressive but fell just short.
 Louisiana Class 4A State Champion: The Demons needed overtime to down Edna Karr in the state final but it got the job done. The team ends the year No. 3 in Louisiana and inside the Top 50 nationally.
36Goose CreekGoose CreekSC13-127
 A very good season ended in defeat to Northwestern. Goose Creek finishes the year as the No. 2 team in a good South Carolina state ranking.
37WayneHuber HeightsOH11-430
 Braxton Miller was the season for Wayne, but the defense steadily improved as the season went on and it nearly won an Ohio Division I state title.
38Mission ViejoMission ViejoCA13-125
 A season of promise fell short in the Pac-5 finals against Servite. The Diablos had a very solid season and were rewarded with a Top 50 ranking.
 Arizona Class 5A Division II State Champion: The Firebirds ended the year with a state title and some argument to the No. 1 spot in Arizona. With the young talent on the team, it will likely ascend to that spot to begin next season.
 South Carolina Class 4A Division I State Champion: Byrnes took quite a while to get healthy and get rolling. Once both of those pieces fell into place, the Rebels rolled to another state title.
 The Cavaliers showed a lot of grit this season, playing through injuries and adversity. It lost in the state final to its biggest rival, Byrnes.
42Myrtle BeachMyrtle BeachSC14-141
 South Carolina Class 3A State Champion: Everett Golson was the name of the game for this team. The team's only loss was to Byrnes and it was able to get a win over Upstate power South Pointe in the final to steal respect for the South state teams.
 Georgia Class AAAAA State Champion: The Peach State was not as top heavy as it has been in recent years. More very good teams stood out than usual and Brookwood proved to be the best of a good bunch.
 North Carolina Class 4A State Champion: Vad Lee and the Hornets proved to be among the best teams in the nation. It was a banner year for North Carolina football.
45Oaks ChristianWestlake VillageCA12-251
 Oaks Christian moved up its league to improve the schedule that had been the knock against it for several years. Winning its section title proved it to be a legit program and not just a beater of inferior teams.
 Texas Class 5A Division II State Champion: Malcolm Brown led the Knights to a state title. The team began the year No. 30 in the nation and fought back from a 1-2 start to win the championship.
 Guyer played one of the more difficult schedules in Texas and made it to the Class 5A Division II finals before losing to Malcolm Brown and Cibolo Steele.
 Arkansas Class 7A State Champion: The biggest class winner in Arkansas was not the clear-cut leader of the pack all season. As it marched through the playoffs, it became clear it was the best in state.
49East Grand RapidsGrand RapidsMI14-046
 Michigan Division 3 State Champion: East Grand Rapids finished its season with a hard-fought victory over Orchard Lake St. Mary's, 35-27.
50Lake TravisAustinTX13-274
 Texas Class 4A Division I State Champion: Injuries cost the team a game early but ultimately made it better as young players stepped up. Lake Travis is a four-peat winner in Texas.
 Injuries derailed a potential CIF Bowl game with a loss to Folsom in the section final.
52Bishop AlemanyMission HillsCA12-156
 Alemany had a solid season, downing Oaks Christian to start the year, and was just one game away from the Pac 5 final, losing to Servite.
53Glenville Academic CampusClevelandOH11-153
 The season started with promise and controversy with wins over Warren Central and Dwyer. However, the Tarblooders could not get out of the region, losing in round two to St. Edward.
 A season of intrigue saw the team fire-then-rehire its coach, fall to Miami Central twice, lose and then avenge its loss to Miami Columbus. Whew.
55St. Thomas MoreLafayetteLA13-158
 Louisiana Class 5A was a fight to the end. St. Thomas More had a quality season with a few good wins. In the end, it ran into a buzzsaw in Acadiana.
 The Explorers were too deep of a team to leave out of the national rankings despite a first round playoff exit.
 The team's two losses were to Class 4A Division I runner-up Dorman, and in the state final to Northwestern.
58WestlakeWestlake VillageCA12-252
 Westlake had dreams of a CIF Bowl bid this season. Close losses to St. Bonaventure and Oaks Christian robbed it of those chances, but it made for a solid season nonetheless.
59Bergen CatholicOradellNJ10-257
 Bergen Catholic steadily improved as the season went on under first-year head coach Nunzio Campanile. The future is bright for the squad, whose only two losses were to Don Bosco.
60Hilliard DavidsonHilliardOH13-154
 The defending Ohio Division I champ lost in the state semifinals to Wayne.
 Central made noise early in the year with a win over Virginia power Oscar Smith. The season came to an end with a loss in the regional finals to Hilliard Davidson.
62Junipero SerraGardenaCA14-128
 A trip to the California Division II Bowl ended up as a disappointment as the Saints fell to Folsom - which was one of the best offensive teams nationally.
 Florida Class 4A State Champion: Lincoln rolled up early season losses while it battled injuries. Once it got healthy it took names, including Armwood, which it defeated to win the state title.
 The Hawks fell just short in the state finals against Lincoln. The team may have lacked the focus it needed once it got passed Dwyer to finish the season.
65DwyerWest Palm BeachFL12-217
 Dwyer had a fantastic season that ended just short as it lost in its Class 4A semifinal on a last second field goal. The ultimate goal was not accomplished, but showing that this team was resiliant enough to move past an early season officiating blunder speaks volumes.
 Even in a rebuilding season, Allen gave Euless Trinity all it wanted in a second round game before falling. 2011 could be a special season with plenty of returning players that gained valuable experience.
 Kentucky Class 6A State Champion: A young Trinity team figures to be in the mix for the next two state titles and higher national rankings as its sophomore class develops.
 Texas Class 4A Division II State Champion: Jonathan Gray is too good of a player to have his undefeated team not in the national rankings.
 Oklahoma Class 6A State Champion: Union battled injuries all season but fought back to win the state title - its third straight.
70Evangel ChristianShreveportLA12-278
 Louisiana Class 2A State Champion: The tide is turning in small-class Louisiana. For the second straight year, Evangel has downed John Curtis to take home the state title.
71St. AugustineSt AugustineFL14-1NR
 St. Augustine nearly knocked off Jefferson in the playoffs losing by one-point. The week before it showed it was for real beating Pensacola and its defense.
72Sandy CreekTyroneGA15-079
 Georgia Class AAA State Champion: Sandy Creek is a back-to-back state champion - the first time in state history that a team won two different classes in consecutive years. Class AAA was the best in state this year and Sandy Creek came out on top.
73North AlleghenyWexfordPA15-172
 Pennsylvania Quad A State Champion: Winning the WPIAL and a PIAA state title in the same season while fighting injuries to its offense proved that defense wins titles.
74RockhurstKansas CityMO14-064
 Missouri Class 6 State Champion: Rockhurst defeated then-No. 100 Hazelwood Central on a second-half field goal, 10-7.
75St. BonaventureVenturaCA11-273
 St. Bonaventure enjoyed a successful season that saw it tie for its regular season league title with Westlake and Oaks Christian.
 Minnesota Class 5A State Champion: Wayzata defeated Rosemount, 31-14, to earn the title.
77North AugustaNorth AugustaSC12-266
 A successful season ended with only losses to Class 4A Division II finalists, Northwestern and Greenwood.
 The Coyotes fell in the state final to Chaparral. A solid season keeps the team as the No. 3 team in the state.
 Tennessee Class 3A State Champion: Gary Rankin's team ran through the competition this season. With three players eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark, it was tough to slow the Tornadoes down.
80West PointWest PointMS15-176
 Mississippi Class 5A State Champion: West Point ran the ball all the way to a title.
 Davidson proved Alabama to have more quality depth. It made a run through the playoffs before falling to eventual state champion, Daphne. A very good team to come out of the Mobile area.
82South PointeRock HillSC13-267
 The top college prospect in the country, Jadaveon Clowney, nearly carried the Stallions to a state title. The team's only losses were to Myrtle Beach in the final, and to Class 4A Division II winner Northwestern to start the year.
83Good CounselOlneyMD10-275
 What could have been a special season ended with a decisive win to earn the WCAC title and a marginal national ranking.
 Indiana Class 5A State Champion: Fishers downed Lawrence Central, 38-19, to earn its first state title.
 Virginia Division VI State Champion: The No. 2 team in Virginia downed Lake Braddock and Hermitage in the last two weeks to claim a state title.
87North ShoreHoustonTX12-281
 North Shore had two losses, both to Katy, and had a solid season.
88DowlingW Des MoinesIA14-087
 Iowa Class 4A State Champion: Dowling went back-and-forth as the top team in Iowa all season before ultimately winning its state title in overtime.
 Washington Class 4A State Champion: Ferris was able to beat four of the Top 10 teams in Washington, including perennial power Skyline, to win states.
90Wichita HeightsWichitaKS13-089
 Kansas Class 6A State Champion: Wichita Heights won in convincing fashion - 48-14 over Olathe North - for the state title.
91Central CatholicAllentownPA16-0NR
 Pennsylvania Class AAA State Champion: Junior quarterback Brandon Nosovitch was one of the best players in his class this season and it showed as he lead the Vikings to a state title.
92St. LouisHonoluluHI11-191
 Hawaii Division I State Champion: Fast as always, St. Louis is the major beneficiary of Kahuku's forfeiture of its season.
 A nearly perfect season ended with defeat in the Class 6A final. This is the first class in 15 years not to leave Jenks with a state title.
94Peach CountyFort ValleyGA13-193
 Peach County was believed to be the best in the state of Georgia at one point. It was unable to dethrone Sandy Creek in the semifinals but remained one of the best teams nationally.
95West RowanMount UllaNC15-094
 North Carolina Class 3A State Champion: West Rowan continued the nation's longest win streak (46 games) in winning a state title.
96Shiloh ChristianSpringdaleAR14-1NR
 Arkansas Class 4A State Champion: Shell shocking loss to Trinity aside, it is hard to aruge that Shiloh did not end the season among one of the best 100 teams in America.
97Maine SouthPark RidgeIL12-295
 Illinois Class 8A State Champion Class 8A in Illinois was not all it is usually cracked up to be. After a slow start to the season, Maine South settled in and took home another title.
98Madison CentralMadisonMS12-296
 The No. 4 team in Mississippi ends the year in the rankings. The state was better overall than most seasons and this ranking shows that.
 Georgia Class AA State Champion: Wins over Gainesville, Cook, and Calhoun combined with Class AA being the third best in the state pushes its champion into the final rankings.
 Massachussetts Division I Super Bowl Champion: Everett went through all of the top teams in its state to prove it was the best.

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