By Melissa Meador
JACKSON – Smithville quarterback Drew Lann barely remembers the last time Smithville reached a state championship game – he was, after all, still just a toddler.
“I was 3 the last time they went to state. My uncle had just graduated, and he and my dad always talk about the experience of it all,” Lann said. “I’m ready to see what it’s like.”
The Seminoles (11-3) will go for their third state title and first since 1998 when they play French Camp today at 11 a.m. in the 1A championship game at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“I think it’s crazy because as little kids, you always think about playing at state,” running back Tyler Hood said. “It’s like a dream come true right now, just getting to go, and maybe we can pull it out and make it a full dream come true.”
French Camp (10-5) is no stranger to the title game after losing to 1A champion Stringer last season. The Panthers went 0-4 to open the season after moving down to the South, but got their revenge by knocking off Stringer 56-35 last week.
“We lost to them in the state championship game last year, so it was great to get another chance to play them,” French Camp coach Nathan Wright said. “Smithville is coached very well. Their quarterback seems like a smart guy who does a lot of things right, and their running back is unreal the way he can find holes and seams to make things happen.”
Credit the O-line
Lann and Hood have 1,045 and 1,889 yards respectively on the ground and 47 touchdowns, but credit their success to their offensive line.
“They work hard, and they’ve got the will, determination and drive,” Hood said. “Those guys are off the ball every day, and I’ve got to give props to them for making big holes for me.”
Smithville has come from behind in two of its three playoff wins to get to the title game.
“We’re not the most talented team by far. We may be the least talented team here, but we have a group of guys that believe they can win anytime they step on the field,” Smithville coach Bubba Tacker said. “It can be the fourth quarter with a minute left and be down two touchdowns, and they’ll never blink. That’s one of the main keys of this team.”