Note: This article was originally published in the Daily Journal on Oct. 11, 2012, the week Tupelo’s 1992 state championship football team was honored by the school. The ’92 team was the last from THS to compete for a state title until this year’s squad.
By Gene Phelps
TUPELO – Nobody in Tupelo High’s quiet dressing room was thinking state championship after the opening game of the 1992 season.
The Golden Wave had played the first game in its new stadium and lost 14-10 to Louisville.
“I remember it well,” said Kirk Presley, Tupelo’s senior quarterback that season. “If you look at the stats, we beat them up and down the field. They made a couple of big plays at the end to win.
“We should have won.”
Presley also recalled that Bob Monroe, an assistant coach, offered some words of encouragement to the disappointed players.
“He said, ‘Y’all look at me, right now. Good things are going to happen to this football team,’” Presley said. “Coach Monroe saw something in that group that we didn’t see yet.”
Indeed, good things did happen for Tupelo. The Golden Wave won 13 straight games and captured the Class 5A state championship with a 13-0 win against Hattiesburg at Mississippi College in Clinton.
This season’s 13-1 Tupelo team is the first Golden Wave squad to return to the championship game. They’ll play at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Oak Grove for the MHSAA Class 6A title at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson.
Monroe, an assistant this year at New Albany, says it wasn’t a stretch to predict good things for the ’92 team.
“That group had played in the state championship game (and lost) two consecutive years,” he said. “A lot of people had great expectations for that team and all the sudden, they lost the first game in that new stadium.
“I really believed in them. I believed they’d be a great team.”
James Sloan, Tupelo’s head coach that season, said his team was loaded with top-notch athletic talent.
“They were athletic and they were good,” said Sloan, an assistant this year at Nettleton. “They could play the game.
“They hit that field running every day. We never heard a complaint from them. That was a unique bunch of kids.”
In the state championship game, a defense led by linebackers Marcus Gary, Jarious Jackson, Clay Short and Mond Wilson blanked a high-powered, point-producing Hattiesburg team.
“It was a great team effort, but the defense really played well that game,” Monroe said.
Hardin Patterson kicked two field goals and receiver David Sisk caught a TD pass from Presley for the Wave’s points.
“We played flawless football in the championship game,” Sloan said. “I was thrilled to be a part of it.”
1992 TUPELO SEASON
Louisville L 10-14
Amory W 21-0
Westwood, Tenn. W 31-19
South Panola W 30-28
Germantown, Tenn. W 24-6
Columbus W 42-0
Meridian W 14-3
Grenada W 41-0
West Point W 28-6
Starkville W 31-24
Vicksburg W 17-10
Provine W 35-19
Clarksdale W 29-6
Hattiesburg W 13-0