Starkville's David Fair (3) and Taylor Johnston (12) combine on a tackle against Yazoo City. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
The Starkville Yellowjackets are sensing something special is happening again this season.
That has caused a couple of players to go the extra mile and play through the pain of an injury.
Preston Baker has a sore ankle and David Fair had a bad knee, but those two Yellowjackets continue to contribute to the team despite their ailments.
Starkville goes into tonight's matchup against the Callaway Chargers with records of 6-3 overall and 5-0 in Class 5A, Region 2, District 6. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Jackson.
The Jackets have clinched a playoff spot with what they've done so far in the region, but with one more victory, their second-straight region championship will be within grasp.
It's the play of the walking wounded like Baker and Fair that have much to do with the success of the team in the mind of SHS football coach Jamie Mitchell.
Baker has 386 yards rushing on 64 carries and seven touchdowns, but provides more to the Jackets than just numbers.
"There is so much leadership there," Mitchell said. "Having him on the field just calms everyone else down. He knows where everyone else is supposed to be. He had some irritation with the ankle in practice again (this week). He's going to go and give you everything he's got. That's what seniors are supposed to be doing."
The case is the same with Fair, who has 34 total tackles this season for SHS with one tackle for loss, two sacks and one fumble recovery.
Even though Fair can't practice because of his knee, the will and determination is evident each Friday night.
"I watch in amazement with that guy," Mitchell said. "I don't know of many players who can do what he's doing with that knee in the shape it's in. He's so tough that he's managing to get through it."
Mitchell was pleased with the overall play of the Jackets in last Friday's 46-0 victory over Yazoo City.
It was a game where the defense once again did not allow an offensive score to a region opponent.
Even when Yazoo City made a push for possible points, its effort was turned away by SHS.
"Our defense has got pride that they haven't been scored on (in region play)," Mitchell said. "Once you get a comfortable lead, you have a tendency to let your guard down and I think that happened a time or two. They just kind of made up their mind, we're not going to let you score and they pretty much did that. We've got to keep doing it."
Defensive back Johnny Smith has a foot injury and there's the hope he will be ready to play for the Jackets tonight, while backup quarterback Caleb Wilson will miss at least two more weeks while recovering from a broken collarbone.
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