JACKSON – Most high school football teams rely on the running game.
It was no different Saturday night in Starkville's 28-11 victory over Pascagoula in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A State championship game.
The Yellowjackets picked up 222 of their 304 total yards on the ground.
"Our running game is pretty good," SHS senior linebacker David Fair said. "We line up, whoever is in front gets beat and run right through them."
The Jackets were led by senior tailback Preston Baker. Baker picked up 111 yards on 18 attempts and one score.
"He did what a senior's supposed to do – lead," Starkville senior quarterback Gabe Myles said. "He sure led. I thank my boy for running the ball."
Baker was a big part of the running game success. He also help ice the game late in the fourth quarter.
"He has been our horse all year long," Jacket head coach Jamie Mitchell said. "We want the ball in his hands."
Baker knew he was going to be a big part of the Jackets offensive attack. The Panthers did a good job early on containing Baker, but he finally broke through.
"They had a couple of drives that they were stopping me, but I came out and told myself 'I won't be stopped,'" Baker said. "Line did a great job opening up holes. I just gassed through them."
Myles picked up 42 yards on 11 carries. He also punched it in twice on the ground.
"We have great running backs in myself, Jaquez Horsley, Darius Grayer and Gabe Myles," Baker said. "We are untouchable."
Horsley had 11 yards on three carries and Grayer had 62 yards on eight attempts.
"Our rushing game has been taking us a long way this year," Baker said. "We knew we couldn't do that much (in the air). Our line have been doing a great job for the past three or four weeks."
The offensive line was a big reason the Jackets were able to be so successful on the ground.
"Our guys up front, really for about a month now, have just really did a phenomenal job," Mitchell said. "Preston Baker has just been unreal. Darius Grayer (Saturday) just a fine, fine ballgame. We were just able to spread the ball around enough."
Starkville has done a lot of damage on the ground with Baker and the dual threat of Myles at quarterback. It paid off once again.
"If you can rush the ball, you can win the ballgame," Myles said. "Preston Baker, those running backs and the offensive line foremost did a wonderful job."