By DANNY P. SMITH
It's a situation where you can beat them and join them at the same time for Matthew Mock.
In 2000 and 2001, Mock was a part of a Starkville High School football squad that defeated the South Panola Tigers both years.
It has been 10 years since Mock's playing days with the Yellowjackets and now he has become a member of the South Panola coaching staff.
Mock's first day as the offensive coordinator for the Tigers was Monday.
"I was learning the ropes, what I needed to do and where I needed to go," Mock said. "It was a great day."
After Mock helped SHS to the Class 5A state championship as a player in 2001, he went with coach Bill Lee to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College as a student-coach.
Even when Lee chose to leave MGCCC and return to Starkville two years later, Mock remained in Perkinston as an assistant on the staff of Steve Campbell for nine seasons.
"While I was at Gulf Coast, we won games and had been real successful," Mock said.
Earlier this year, when Trey Dickerson left his position as offensive coordinator at South Panola to take the head coaching job at Hattiesburg High School, South Panola head coach Lance Pogue gave Campbell a call to ask if he knew anybody who might be interested in coming to Batesville.
Campbell passed Mock's name on to Pogue and the process of the transition was in motion.
Pogue said Mock was a good fit for what he wanted to continue at South Panola.
"I was looking for a guy with our background in our offense," Pogue said. "We want to be a run-first football team and I thought he was a guy who was well-versed in that.
"We sat down, met and were really impressed with him. He has a great future and will add a great deal to our program."
Mock was thankful to Campbell for sharing his name with Pogue and is excited about the chance to be the offensive coordinator at one of the premier high school programs in the state.
"It's a great opportunity for me as a coach and for my career to be able to call plays for a team that's had a tradition of winning," Mock said. "You go into it with what you know. With the athletes we have, it's going to be a lot of fun."
Mock helped the Yellowjackets win the Class 5A state championship in 2001 and remembers those days fondly.
He was reminded of how much he enjoyed that time of his life while visiting home last week during spring break.
"I saw a couple of the guys and was even watching a little bit of the highlight video to remind me what had happened that year," Mock said. "It was definitely a special time. We beat some really good teams and some teams that are now very successful. Meridian has been in the state championship and we beat them. We beat West Point, South Panola and Moss Point."
Because Starkville has dropped down to Class 5A, Mock won't get to coach against his alma mater, but he will be going against former rivals like West Point and Columbus.
"Guys that you've even coached with before, you are coaching against them and that's the funny thing about coaching," Mock said. "One of my buddies is coaching in the West Point School District."