Win no. 74 was a special one for Batesville (Miss.) South Panola's Jermarcus Hardrick. Hardrick helped South Panola advance to the Mississippi 5A state finals with a dominating 43-28 victory over Olive Branch. The win was the final home game for a special South Panola senior class.
"It was a good game," Hardrick said. "I'm just glad the coaches didn't let us stop playing ball. It was the last time playing ball on that field so all the seniors got together before and said that we gotta get after it."
Hardrick is part of an impressive offensive line for South Panola and in his final home game helped their running back, Ole Miss commit Darius Barksdale, break out for a huge night. On the night, Barksdale rushed for 399 yards.
"When you got a good running back like 'Tig', it makes it so much easier," he said. "It gives the whole offensive line a lot of pride. When he does that, he always gives thanks to the offensive line. I'm just glad the coaches give Tig the chance to run like that."
Hardrick has understandably gained tremendous confidence in his squad and will take that confidence with him into the state championship game.
"I expect if we play our ball, I don't see nobody in the nation beating us," he said. "With the good coaching we've got, I just don't see another team outcoaching us. The season's gone about like I expected, it's just gone too fast. I just wish I could play a couple more games at home in front of my family in Batesville."
Hardrick started out the season at offensive tackle but over the past seven weeks he has been playing as a blocking tight end and has enjoyed the move.
"My coach moved me to tight end and they throw me the ball every now and then," he said. "I had dropped down to 315. The coaches have done a good job and got me conditioned right. I give a lot of credit to my new offensive line coach and my old one too."
As the season winds down, the recruiting season is on the horizon for Hardrick but he has other concerns.
"I'm getting a couple letters but I'm really trying to make sure we win this state championship and I need to work on my grades," he said. "I'm going to take the test again and if I still need some more help I'm going to take the online classes to try to get qualified. I just hope a team offers me a scholarship and gives me a chance."
Hardrick would love to stay in the SEC and play his new role as a tight end but he is open to other options as well.
"I really see myself doing this tight end thing but if anybody picks me up, I'd do anything to help the team wherever they need me," he said. "I just want an SEC team to pick me or any team that'll give me a chance."