Thomas was a longtime friend

Published 12:47 am Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I was really sorry to learn of the death last week of Flop Thomas. Flop was not only a Natchez High classmate of mine, he was a long-time friend.

There has likely never been a more enthusiastic Ole Miss supporter. He was a member of the original group who formed the Miss-Lou Chapter of National Football Foundation and delighted in the annual scholarships awarded by the Chapter.

Last Friday night I saw perhaps the best high school football team I have ever seen. Widely called The University of South Panola the South Panola High School Tigers won their 89th consecutive game after a close, hard-fought, 24-21 victory over Madison Central in a game not decided until a last minute interception by South Panola.

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The Tigers now move on to this week’s state championship game against Meridian. South Panola is seeking their sixth straight State Title.

Even though South Panola’s star tailback left the game in the second quarter, not to return, their second and third line runners were equally effective, which bodes well for the Tiger’s continued success.

Madison Central, starting seven sophomores and juniors on offense, also looks strong for another run.

I was sorry to see that Franklin County lost to Tylertown, but their upperclassmen have already had two trips to Veteran’s Stadium, so I can’t feel overly sorry for them.

Centreville Academy and coach Bill Hurst claimed another MPSA title, and my congratulations go to them.

It always amazes me that veteran college football announcers (radio and television) can continually mislead their listeners when discussing college football rules. An example was Mississippi State’s Jack Cristil Saturday during the Ole Miss game.

State’s quarterback was flagged for intentional grounding. Though the player was clearly outside of the tackle box, he failed to throw the ball past the line of scrimmage.

It also appeared to me that the quarterback was being tackled, and that probably led to the ball not reaching the line of scrimmage. I do not mean to question the referee’s call because I was not there.

However, the announcer did question the call, based only on the quarterback being outside of the tackle box.

The rule in college football states: “Exception: It is not a foul when the passer, who has been outside the frame of the body of the normal tackle position toward the sideline, throws the ball so that it crosses the neutral zone or the neutral zone extended.”

A new rule for this season outlaws the horse collar tackle, except against the quarterback. I have seen that rule violated several times, but have yet to see it flagged.

The same announcer also called the officials to task for flagging Ole Miss players for violating the so-called ‘celebration’ rule. In the first case, the Ole Miss player had broken loose for a long touchdown run. As he neared the goal line, he turned and pointed to the trailing defenders. That was not celebrating, but was clearly taunting.

The second incident appeared to show the Ole Miss player high fiving fans after he scored. That is a specific rule violation, and will always be penalized.

The college rules committee writes the rules, so if someone objects to them that is where the objection should be lodged. When rules become unpopular with enough coaches, they get changed.

And, that’s official.

Al Graning writes a weekly column for The Democrat.