JACKSON – The Starkville Yellowjackets can hold their heads high even after state championship loss.
The Jackets came up short in the MHSAA Class 5A state championship game on Saturday night. However, to get to state finals was a huge accomplishment for a team that nobody predicted to be there.
Starkville put together a great season this year that led them to Class 5A, Region 2 and North titles.
Even though the Jackets failed to win in Jackson, the fans, parents and staff of Starkville High School is proud of what the young men and coaches have accomplished this year.
"This is a coaching staff and a group of boys who have worked really hard all year long to make us proud," said Starkville High School principal Keith Fennell. "There is no reason for any of us to not be proud tonight. They showed very good sportsmanship at the end of the ball game and we'll be back."
Under head coach Jamie Mitchell, the Jackets seemed to find a way to win games many believed they wouldn't during this season but he has made believers out of those who picked against him and his team.
After the season, many now believe that SHS will be returning to Jackson again next season with Mitchell at the helm.
"I'm confident that we have just taken the first step," said Fennell. "The taste of defeat is bad and it's something they are not going to enjoy, so I think it's something we came overcome in the future if we get another shot at it."
One person who believes they will get another shot next season is junior quarterback Gabe Myles, but he isn't looking to play the same team next year.
"I'm not worried about a rematch," said Myles. "Anybody that comes to Jackson next year is getting pounded."
This season has given the Jackets confidence and after a 5-6 season last year, what they have done this season is amazing and has made everybody around the program proud.
"I'm extremely proud," said Fennell. "They put together a great season. After missing out on the playoffs a year ago, to be where they are today shows tremendous improvement and tonight from the first half to the second half was tremendous improvement."
Starkville trailed early on Saturday night but fought back to take the lead early in the second half. However, the run-based offense of the Maroon Tide kept pounding the ball and caught the breaks they needed to get the win.
Myles who seems to be ready for next season to begin right away after the disappointing loss, said he feels bad that he couldn't win the state title for the seniors.
Even though the seniors didn't get to end their careers with a state championship, they were a huge part of the Jackets making it back to Jackson for the first time since 2001.
"They got here (Jackson) and it's a major accomplishment," said Fennell. "The future is bright for us, but for our seniors they carried us and they gave us a lot of leadership. We are very proud of them and wish them the best in their futures."