The Poplarville Hornets have no problem living up to expectations, but what happens when those expectations are met with such regularity that they’re no longer expectations.
Exhibit A being the program’s fourth South State championship in the last five years with no gold balls to show for it.
This year’s team has the chance to rewrite history in a rematch of the 2018 4A state title game against Louisville.
A lot has changed from then to now, but for one of those teams that crushing 25-20 defeat still feels like it was just yesterday.
Poplarville’s road back to this point started with three non-district losses before ripping off 10 straight wins and the Hornets are only getting stronger as they go.
They won their four playoff games by a combined score of 186-35 and yet somehow that’s still not enough.
Head Coach Jay Beech says this is the healthiest his team has been leading up to a state championship game and definitely the most motivated. “Yeah, you can tell our kids were expecting to be here. Our kids really weren’t that excited on the win Friday night. It wasn’t a whole lot of celebrating. We won the game, but we knew we had one more that we wanted to win.”
Poplarville tight end Andrew Smith said, “We expected to win that game and we knew that we had one more before we could get to here and that it was just all a business mentality, that game too. They were in the way of our goal.”
Poplarville strong safety Hagen Hall said, “We’re tired of just making it there. We’re ready to get a ring. And that’s the whole team, coaching staff, everybody is ready to bring it back home.”
Poplarville cornerback/ free safety Jamaya Henry said, “It’s bigger than a football team, I know that. We’re playing – a lot of older players come to us and be like, well, we’re playing through y’all. So, it means it’s legendary. It’s not what you have, it’s what you’re remembered for.”
Poplarville and Louisville, who is 9-0 all-time in state title games, will kick off the 4A Championship at 11 a.m. Saturday from the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson.