Few would have pegged Greene County as the south state champion in Class 4A entering August.
Perhaps even fewer would have given the Wildcats much of a chance against Noxubee County in Saturday’s 4A state championship.
But there they were.
Greene County (10-5) stood toe-to-toe with the Tigers before eventually falling 16-6. Noxubee County finished a perfect 16-0.
Greene County finished after carving itself a special place in the heart of their coach, Johnny Ainsworth.
Ainsworth missed the team’s spring practices and, later, the Wildcats’ Sept. 14 game against Taylorsville due to health issues.
He suffers from Zenker’s diverticulum, a condition that causes pockets to form in the back of the throat that can catch pieces of food and medication, which can lead to infection and malnutrition.
Greene County also had three members of its varsity or junior varsity team die since June of 2011.
So being the underdog on Saturday wasn’t all that much for the Wildcats to handle.
“This team has had a lot of fight it in all year,” Ainsworth, 58, said. “We’ve had a lot of adversities and things that’s went on. We lost a couple of players and then my issues. I can’t say enough about them. These kids are like extended family to us. I’m very proud of them.”
Kameron Myers accounted for 136 yards in Charleston’s 21-20 defeat to Hazlehurst in the Class 3A state championship game.
He finished his senior year with 2,597 yards and accounted for 30 touchdowns.
Myers scored on 61-yard pass in the first quarter.
“He is such a great player and person,” Charleston coach Tony Vance said. “We will miss him.”
Starkville moving up next year
Starkville High reached the Class 5A state championship for a second straight season. If the Yellowjackets are to get back next season, they’ll have to do so in Class 6A after moving up in the MHSAA’s latest reclassification.
Starkville will compete in Region 2-6A with Clinton, Columbus, Greenville, Madison Central, Murrah, Northwest Rankin, and Warren Central.
Starkville is the only team that made it to Jackson this season that will be changing classifications next year.
Three teams finished the season 16-0 this weekend. Bassfield won 2A on Friday, while Hazlehurst won 3A and Noxubee County won 4A. Prior to this season, Lafayette was the only team to go 16-0. The Commodores went 16-0 in 2010 and 2011 to win back-to-back Class 4A titles.