By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
No injury is going to keep Corinth senior forward John Mathis off the field today when the Warriors play Bay High for the Class 4A soccer state championship.
Not a surgically-repaired collarbone – one held together by a metal strip and nine screws.
Not a badly sprained ankle – one that has required him to wear a walking boot since Wednesday and made him miss all practices leading up to today’s 11:30 a.m. game at Clinton .
“The guy’s tough,” Corinth coach Gregg Parker said.
Mathis, who has scored 32 goals this season, plans to play through any pain. He suffered the ankle injury in Tuesday’s state semifinals win over Pontotoc.
“It’s swollen and it’s blue, but I’ll be ready to play,” he said Thursday afternoon. “It will be heavily taped. Once I get out there and get the adrenaline going, it will be fine.”
He broke his collarbone earlier this season, but only missed five games.
“I broke it Jan. 3 and had surgery Jan. 4,” Mathis said, then smiled. “I would have been out eight weeks without the surgery.”
Goalkeeper Cullen Grantham thought the Warriors’ chances to play for a state title may have ended when Mathis broke his collarbone.
“We went on and played our game,” he said. “We had other people step up.”
Parker believes it helped his club grow stronger with Mathis sidelined. The experience helped the team this week when their star went out with the ankle injury.
Defender Kyle Webb stepped up on offense, scoring the winning goal against Pontotoc on a header off a perfectly placed corner kick from midfielder Josh Trest.
“These guys have rallied with John out,” he said. “They have played down and without him before.”
Today, the Warriors (17-2-2) are counting on playing with Mathis … and winning a state championship, the program’s second in three seasons. Corinth won the Class 1A-2A-3A title in 2010.