Golden Wave football has always been tradition-rich. Many remember the coaches from the last 25+ years and how they impacted student athletes from year to year.
Here are quotes from a few former Tupelo football coaches about this season and this week’s upcoming opponent, South Panola.
Ricky Black (1980-1992): Black, who notched his 300th career win at Jackson Prep last season, recalled his 1990 team. That team started the year 8-0 and went to a state championship for the first time in Tupelo’s history. “We didn’t have a lot of senior talent. That sophomore class is what carried us for three years,” said Black. “It was a very good team that played with a lot of chemistry as the season stretched on.”
Black said this week at South Panola is big but a lot of football remains. “Establish yourself and prepare all week for the contest. When Friday comes, just play relaxed.”
James “Booty” Sloan (1992-1996): Sloan is the only football coach to win a state title at THS, but he remembers having a lot of talent around him during his tenure. “We just liked to practice. It says a lot that we won a championship but it really helps when you have athletic young men who wanted it every week.”
Sloan, who only lost to South Panola twice, said a lot of hype is put on the Tigers because they play with so much intensity. “People are going to wonder if Tupelo is ready for South Panola. Maybe folks should be wondering if South Panola is ready for Tupelo?”
Johnny Hill (1996-2000): Hill (pictured above with quarterback/son Stan), who’s currently coaching a top 10, undefeated Oxford team, says some games are won over weeks at a time. “You can’t prepare for a team overnight… you dance with the girl you carry to the dance. I’ve seen THS play on film. What Tupelo’s doing is effective… they’re tough and physical… they play like their pants are on fire. This isn’t powderpuff football. If you are passing, you better protect. If you are blocking, you better stay with your block.” He says Trent better prepare them for “a slugfest” in Batesville.
Hill loved the kids that played at Tupelo when he was coaching. “I never worried about kids not coming to practice. Players took coaching well and most knew they had a chance every time we snapped the football. A lot of teams were more athletic than us but our kids always fought… losing pride or quitting never happened on our watches.”
Phil Ferguson (2000-2004): The last time Tupelo defeated the Tigers was in 2001. Phil Ferguson remembers that 17-14 game at Batesville very well. “South Panola struggled a little bit that year but I can remember they ran it on us every play. We crowded the box on defense and we punted very well throughout the game.” Ferguson said former wide receiver and baseball standout Kevin Caldwell played an extremely good game. “He’s the one who put us in the position to win it at the end” said Ferguson.
Ferguson said this week is a big game but “the Tigers play 11 guys like everyone else.” “Coach Hammond is doing things really well. Yes, it’s South Panola but it boils down to blocking, tackling, and good special teams. Lamar (Aldridge) is someone I would want on my team every Friday. The Blue and Gold are underdogs but that will add some motivation.”
Really appreciate these great men taking time out of their week to help give feedback on this season’s team.