It's difficult to win a state championship in any sport.
The toll a soccer season take on a team has to make it much tougher.
That's what makes the accomplishment of the Starkville High School boys soccer team last Saturday even more impressive.
For a sport where points are at a premium, it takes much will and determination to get on a good enough roll for the desired result of a championship.
The Yellowjackets got hot at just the right time and used momentum throughout the playoffs to claim the Class 5A State crown. Starkville defeated Pascagoula 1-0 in Clinton to take the title.
SHS coach Brian Bennett was finally rewarded after 14 seasons of work with the program. He did a good job of keeping the Jackets focused on the task throughout the season.
It would have been easy for Starkville after a disappointing loss to Oxford near the end of the regular season to throw in the towel, but it finished out the Region 3, District 4 schedule strong with victories over Neshoba Central and New Hope to secure the top seed and that was huge.
The Jackets were able to host the first round of the playoffs and shut out Center Hill at home 4-0. They only allowed three goals in four playoff matches by also beating Oxford 4-2, Hernando 3-1 and Pascagoula.
That meant that SHS goal keeper Addison Watson and the other defenders were doing their job to keep opposing offenses out of the net.
There was a strong senior presence with the Jackets during the season and that's important for any athletic squad that has success. Along with Watson, the other SHS seniors were JR Tomlinson, Marvin Hughes, Price Day, Lewis Maynard, Austin Wileman, Justin Gandy and Kase Kingery.
The weather certainly hampered the Jackets as they attempted to play home matches during the season, but it was good to see them respond down the stretch and get a couple of nice playoff wins in Starkville.
SHS athletics can be proud of what it has accomplished so far this school year and you can bet that athletic director Stan Miller is excited.
With the football team reaching the Class 5A State Championship game, the soccer team winning the title and the boys basketball team favored to do the same, there's potential for some special things still ahead for the Jackets to enjoy.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.
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