November 23, 2009

Madison Central DT ready for North Half showdown

Bryon Bennett no longer has to make his mind think of something else.

Ever since the first week of August, no, longer than that. Ever since this time last year, the Madison (Central), Miss., defensive tackle has been waiting on another shot at South Panola.

The Tigers topped Madison Central in the North Half final in 2008, and the two schools have been on somewhat of a collision course from that moment. The Jaguars are undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the state, while South Panola's lone loss is to Memphis (Tenn.) University School.

The two teams have routed opponents during the playoffs and will face off Friday night in Batesville, Miss. In the quarterfinals, Madison Central crushed Olive Branch, 54-23, and South Panola blanked Clinton, 35-0.

"I'm just happy to have this opportunity after all this time," Bennett said. "The dream is still alive, and that is what we've been hoping for. You try to block it out, but the motivation has been just to get to this game, get back to Panola."

The key match-up will be the Tigers' physical running game - led by Nicholas Parker - against the Jaguars' star-studded front four, led by Bennett and four-star prospect Carlton Martin.

"They use really tight splits, and that's too our advantage," Bennett said. "Nobody can handle our front one-on-one like that. We watched film today, and that was exciting to see.

"I think our offense is the big difference though. We can do a little of it all on offense and throw more at you. They can take care of it by themselves, but we're ready to hit them in the mouth."

ACADEMICS COME FIRST SATURDAY: Bennett planned to be in Oxford, Miss., Saturday for the Ole Miss-LSU showdown, but the three-star athlete stayed home to work with a tutor helping with ACT preparation.

Bennett has recorded three scores of 17 on the exam and is scheduled for another retest in December.

"I'm eligible for some schools, but I want to do better and just be able to coast on out," Bennett said. "I'll get it up a little bit and take care of it. This tutor has been set up, so I'm doing what I can."

While the 6-foot-2, 250-pounder wasn't at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, he did check out the entertaining contest, won my Ole Miss, 25-23.

"I caught all of it at home, and it was a great game," Bennett said. "I talked to Carlton, and he had a good time. I like it up there and hate I missed it, but I'll be at the Egg Bowl."

Bennett said he would sign with Ole Miss if he stays in state, and he is also considering offers from Texas Tech, Syracuse and Oklahoma.

"I'm getting ready for the visits, and the list is starting to shrink," Bennett said. "Ole Miss knows how I feel about them, and I haven't checked out the other schools yet. But I will, and there's no reason to make a decision right now."

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