By Austin Bishop
The Winston County Journal
It’s hard to make football history in Louisville, but that’s just what the 2013 Louisville High School Wildcats did on Saturday as they completed a 16-0 season — the first ever in school history.
The Wildcats clinched the feat with a 30-28 win over Hazlehurst High School at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, giving LHS its eighth MHSAA State Championship in football since the playoffs began in 1981.
“It’s something we have talked about,” LHS senior quarterback Wyatt Roberts said of going undefeated. “It was a chance to do something special. You can’t beat 16-0.”
In fact, only once since the school system was fully integrated in 1970 has a Louisville High School football team gone undefeated. That occurred in 1971 when the Wildcats went 11-0, including a 29-0 season-ending win over Ackerman in the Choctaw Conference Championship game. That team, like the 2013 team, finished third in the state among all classifications in the final Associated Press poll.
The eight state titles, five of which were in 4A and three in 3A, puts Louisville High School second only to South Panola, who has won 10 titles. Louisville holds some bragging rights however in that the Wildcats have never gone to a state championship game and not won it.
“And I didn’t want to be the first one to do that, I can promise you that,” said LHS head coach M.C. Miller with a hearty laugh after the game on Saturday.
“We talked about it a lot,” said senior defensive lineman Rodneal Smith of the fact that the ‘Cats had never lost in a championship game. “We were never ever, never ever, going to let that happen. We weren’t going to lose.
“It was very important (to win),” said senior running back Avonte Harris. “If we came home and we lost, I wouldn’t have known what to do.”
Louisville won its first state championship in 1985 with a 23-7 win over Pearl and followed that up with a 12-7 win over South Pike in 1986.
The 1991 team took a 6-3 title game win over Stone County while the 1993 team beat Magee 25-6 and the 1995 team defeated McComb 14-7.
After a 12-year hiatius from Jackson and the championship game, the Wildcats won their sixth ring in 2007 with a 21-7 victory over Franklin County and backed that up with a 26-21 win over Tylertown in 2008, leading up to this year’s 30-28 win over Hazlehurst.
With the win over the Indians on Saturday, Louisville became the only MHSAA school to win a state championship in each decade that the playoffs have been held.
“It is a unique situation at Louisville, even when I played,” said former LHS quarterback and head coach Brad Peterson, who was in attendance at the game on Saturday. We believed then that Louisville doesn’t lose the State Championship. There are good expectations. When your kids feel confident they are going to win a game, it always helps.”
Peterson was the quarterback on the 1991 title team and the head coach of the 2007 and 2008 championship teams. He is currently the head coach at Brandon High School.
The players understand from the beginning what it means to be a Louisville High School Wildcat.
“it means a lot to be able to play for a community like Louisville because as long as you are winning they are going to support you no matter what, day in and day out,” said senior wide receiver Dalton Hudspeth. “The thing that I love about them, is that even when you are doing bad they are going to tell you about it and what you are doing wrong.”
Hudspeth and his teammates joined a unique fraternity on Saturday, one that includes all former Louisville Wildcats who sport state championship rings.
“It is a prestigious club and you are going to be able to come back home wearing that ring and talking about it the rest of your life,” Hudspeth. “I’m sure going to proud of it.”
And there will likely be a little something extra on the 2013 Championship ring that has never been on one before it — 16-0.