By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Starkville’s David Fair Jr. knows pain, he just ignores it.
The Yellow Jackets’ senior defensive end will play the final game of his high school football career Saturday in the MHSAAClass 5A state championship game against Pascagoula with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Fair, the son of former Mississippi State running back David Fair, suffered the ligament injury in the season’s second game. He missed one game, then returned for the team’s fourth.
“The doctor told him if he had surgery he would miss the season,” Starkville head coach Jamie Mitchell said.
“I wanted to play,” Fair said. “I got hurt last year and didn’t get to play (in the championship game). I wanted to get back.”
This isn’t the 6-foot, 215-pound Fair’s first brush with a torn ACL. This season’s injury was the third of this type in two years. He had surgery twice last year following football-related knee injuries in September and December.
“It’s unbelievable to see what he’s been able to do,” Mitchell said. “It seems like every game he gets in a position where he can’t get off the field. We have to go out there and get him. Two plays later, he’s pulling on my shirt, ‘Coach, I can go.’’’
Fair is held out of all contact work Monday through Thursday at practice. Instead, he watches and absorbs everything he needs to know about Friday’s upcoming opponent.
“He never practices, but he gets mental reps,” Mitchell said. “He’s the most prepared player we have. It’s incredible.”
Fair’s defensive numbers are amazing considering the handicap he’s playing with. He has recorded 67 tackles, four for losses, six sacks and had two tackles for safeties. He’s also forced a fumble and recovered one.
Mitchell continues to be impressed with the injured player’s sideline-to-sideline prowess on the field.
“He’s involved in every play,” he said. “He’s out there playing with a torn ACL. He’s a relentless leader.”
WHO: Starkville (11-3) vs. Pascagoula (11-2)
WHAT: MHSAA Class 5A Championship Game
WHERE: Veterans Memorial Stadium, Jackson
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday