There will be a Starkville High School football reunion among coaches tonight in Quitman.
When Quitman hosts Laurel for the Class 4A South State Championship, it will be a chance for Quitman assistant coaches Jim Abraham and Will Staggers to renew acquaintances with Laurel head coach Milton Smith.
Smith was a quarterback and kicker with the Yellowjackets from 1983-85, while Abraham was a quarterback at SHS in 1994-95 and Staggers was a signal caller with the Jackets from 2003-06.
Reaching the South State was pretty much expected for Laurel, but that was not the case for Quitman.
"We weren't anticipating this kind of year," Staggers said. "We felt good about our region and how we'd stack up. At the end of July, if you told us we'd be a couple of rounds deep into the playoffs, I would have been surprised.
"Being in the South State, we are beyond thrilled to be here. These kids have gone at it since August and this is like week 18 in football. Everybody is beat up and battered, but you give a lot of credit to the kids we've got around here. They won't give up and haven't taken a rep off in the drills."
Staggers coaches the linebackers for Quitman, while Abraham works with the wide receivers and is the head baseball coach. Staggers will help Abraham with baseball in the spring and have a good relationship.
"We both played quarterback at Starkville High," Staggers said. "We joke about it all of the time because we had a lot of the same role. When he was there, he was on a team that won two state championships and I was on one that made it all of the way to the North Half until we ran into Panola my sophomore year."
Quitman (10-4) was a third seed out of their region which put them on the road in the first round of the playoffs, while Laurel (13-1) has played at home in all three rounds so far. That has set up the meeting in Laurel.
Abraham is good friends with Quitman head coach John Douglas and looks forward to sharing the experience of the South State Championship with him as well as Staggers.
"Playing for a South State Championship, we're pretty excited," Abraham said. "With both of us being here and to be able to help and contribute, it's going to be fun.".