South State Preview, Part IV: Stone eyes more history in 4A semifinals vs. Mendenhall

WIGGINS, Miss. — For the first time since 1991, the Stone football team is practicing over Thanksgiving, fresh off its first district title since 1994.

After starting the season with back-to-back losses – albeit against 6A teams – the Tomcats have ripped off nine straight wins, the first seven of those coming by double digits.

Their playoff victories include Sumrall, North Pike by just one point in overtime and finally 32-28 over Poplarville, who had previously been to six straight South State title games.

But Stone certainly earning its place, after coming back from a 10-point halftime deficit, shutting out the Hornets in the final 24 minutes and allowing just 32 yards during that stretch, and those 32 points are easily the most Poplarville had allowed all season.

Coming out of the other side of the bracket is Mendenhall, who’s won 12 straight games. But Stone is inspired by its history in the making, now just a stone’s throw away from going to State for the first time in more than three decades.

“Well, first time in 31 years, feels good for it to be us,” said Stone senior left guard Kaleb Ladner.

“It’s crazy,” said Stone senior safety K’Drian Smith. “It’s just crazy because 31 years, that’s a very long time, and I just love this group of guys. We’re working. We just work a lot. We wanted it. We wanted all of this, this year. I feel like we’re almost there.”

“One of our theme songs of the year is Maybach Curtains, look how far we came, that’s how the chorus goes, and we came a long way,” said Stone head football coach John Feaster. “That game there will always be the favorite of my career no matter what happens because when I got here we hadn’t beaten them in a while, and we had come close several times, and we feel like we had the right game plan several times, but we didn’t carry it out. But the other night in the midst of adversity, even when we were down, our kids kept fighting. They kept fighting, so they took the monkey off their back of not beating Poplarville, but they beat the Kings of the South in 4A. I mean at the end of the day, that’s who they beat. Like I said, it’s a special feeling, man, for these kids, man. It’s special.”

Stone and Mendenhall kick things off at 7 p.m. Friday from A.L. May Memorial Stadium in Perkinston.

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