Reaching for state: Jackets only need to take one more step to Jackson
Starkville quarterback Gabe Myles (5) attempts to score a touchdown against Neshoba Central in the final regular season game. (Photo by Lee Adams, SDN)
The Starkville Yellowjackets have come too far to turn back now.
View more articles in:
After winning nine-straight games to reach the Class 5A North State Championship Game tonight, Starkville football coach Jamie Mitchell said his team might as well win one more time and make it to Jackson.
"We get to this point and you've got to put 13 games behind us," Mitchell said. "This is a one game deal. There's only one ticket to Jackson and only one of the two of us are going to claim it. That's the way you've got to look at it."
The Jackets travel to Ridgeland to meet the Titans for the second time this season. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
On Oct. 7, Starkville came from behind to take a 26-23 decision at Ridgeland in a Class 5A, Region 2 outing.
"That was probably one of the wildest finishes you'll have," Mitchell said. "We made a ton of mistakes in that game and you have to credit them with a lot of that because they made plays. They had a pick six and intercepted another one in their end zone that they ran back for 20 yards. They made some plays in that game that made it extremely tough for us."
Jacket quarterback Gabe Myles, who was the guilty party in the two interceptions against the Titans, has put together a very good junior season.
Myles has over 2,500 yards of total offense with 1,827 yards passing and 750 yards rushing. He has scored 27 touchdowns (19 passing, eight rushing).
Starkville has three receivers with at least 24 catches and 300 yards. Devin Mitchell leads the way with 31 receptions for 786 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Coach Mitchell knows that mistakes can play a vital role in a big game much like last week in the 20-14 victory the Jackets had over the West Point Green Wave.
"You think back to the West Point game and the fumbles they had we converted both of those into touchdowns and that's the difference in the game," Mitchell said. "This game is going to be very similar to that. The team that makes mistakes and capitalizes on the other team's mistakes is going to be the one that probably wins the ballgame."
Starkville senior linebacker Dennis Ware remembers the game against Ridgeland and even though its defense was successful in shutting down Quardarius Armour in the first meeting, the potential to throw the ball was there.
"It's going to take a whole lot of effort and we've just got to play lights out defense," Ware said. "We can't go off of the last game because we know they have something for us too."
Coming off Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday, the Jackets have had to work around the holiday to schedule practice times.
No one will catch Mitchell complaining about it.
"We wouldn't have it any other way," Mitchell said. "I think our kids will gladly sacrifice some holiday time to have the chance to play for a state championship."