By Austin Bishop
The Winston County Journal
The Louisville High School football team has been faced with several much-ballyhooed “challenges” and each time the Wildcats have swatted them away like pesky fleas.
What stands in front of LHS this Friday night may indeed be the biggest challenge the ‘Cats have faced all year as they travel to Charleston on Friday night at 7 to take on the Tigers for the MHSAA Class 4A North State Championship.
“They have got a pretty good football team,” said LHS head coach M.C. Miller, which is high praise indeed from a man who doesn’t hesitate to be painfully honest about an opponent, no matter how good or bad they may be. “They are big and they are strong.”
They have also been here before.
The Wildcats are on a trek to reach a place in MHSAA football that only mighty South Panola has dare to tread. With a win over Charleston on Friday and a victory over either Hazlehurst or Wilkinson County on Saturday, Dec. 7 in the 3A title game, the Wildcats will become just the second public school program to win eight state championships since the playoffs began in 1982. South Panola currently has 10, but is working on 11, as they play for the 6A North Title on Friday night at well.
But, Charleston has some recent success as well. With a win over the Wildcats, it would put Charleston in the Class 3A Championship Game for the third consecutive season. Charleston beat Hazlehurst 34-8 for the crown in 2011 and lost 21-20 in a re-match last season.
Charleston comes into Friday night’s game with a 12-1 record with that lone loss being 24-13 to Class 6A Olive Branch in the third week of the season. Charleston’s most impressive wins have come over West Bolivar (33-0), Aberdeen (56-41) and North Panola (50-43).
“Our practice was okay today,” Miller said early on Monday afternoon. “We worked on Charleston today. They are going to try and run the ball on us more than anything else.”
While what Charleston does on Friday night will certainly be important, the game will likely rest on how Louisville performs.
“I think we will be ready,” Miller said. “We have to go on the road again, but that’s just the way it is. We will have to deal with it.”
The ‘Cats, now 14-0 on the season, dealt with it just fine last week, jumping out to a 14-0 lead over homestanding Cleveland East Side in the first quarter before rolling to a solid 40-6 win. It was the eighth consecutive game in which Louisville has scored 35 or more points.
Wyatt Roberts got the ‘Cats started by hitting Desmond Goss with a 49-yard scoring pass. LHS picked up its second touchdown in the quarter by a 2-yard run by Avonte Harris.
LHS led 21-6 at the half thanks to a 26-yard pass from Roberts to Dontae Jones.
“We slipped up and let them score one and I wasn’t too happy about that, but we came right back and got a touchdown, then the defense tightened up and didn’t let them have anything else,” Miller said.
Louisville’s third quarter touchdowns came on runs of 1 and 2 yards by Roberts, while the senior quarterback hit T.J. Hudson with a 26-yard scoring pass in the fourth quarter. Corey McCullough was good on four of his six extra point attempts.
Roberts hit on 11-of-24 passes for 215 yards, while Harris rushed for 54 yards on 11 tries and Demarcus Brooks had seven carries for 29 yards.
Jones had three catches for 89 yards, while Brooks had three for 20. Goss had two catches for 56 yards, Hudson two for 37 and Harris one for 13.