By Ruthie Robison The Choctaw Plaindealer
After their first taste of Jackson, the French Camp Panthers are determined that they will see Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium again in the future.
“We hope this does start a trend that we can continue to see the French Camp Panthers competing for State championships, and competing at that quality level,” said head coach Nathan Wright. “We’re just thankful to the Lord for all of it. We’ve enjoyed a great year, and we can’t wait to see what’s next.”
Although it was not the ending they had hoped for, the Panthers made history this season.
After snagging the Class 1A, Region 2, District 3 title and the North Half championship title for the first time in school history, French Camp took a 20-17 heartbreaking loss in a State championship matchup against the South Half champion Stringer Red Devils.
“We’re ecstatic to have the chance to play, and I felt like our coaches, our players, and even our fans deserved this chance to play at a high level,” Wright said. “We can’t say enough about how thankful we are to be here.”
Stringer struck first with a 25-yard field goal by Cade Hinton. With 7:03 left in the first quarter, the Red Devils had a 3-0 lead. After the kickoff, French Camp began moving the ball down the field on a 13-play drive. Senior running back Jaylon Clemons capped the drive with a run to the end zone from three yards out. Sam Gould added the extra point for the Panthers.
French Camp had claimed a 7-3 lead within the first quarter of the game.
However early in the second quarter, Hinton received another opportunity to cut away at the Panther lead. Hinton added another three points for Stringer with a 30-yard field goal.
After the Panthers and Red Devils traded possessions, French Camp began moving the chains. Gould increased the Panther lead after splitting the uprights with a 35-yard field goal.
French Camp took a 10-6 advantage into halftime.
Stringer reached the end zone for the first time during the game in the third quarter of play. Quarterback Tevin Moore dashed 51 yards for a Red Devil touchdown. After the extra point by Hinton, Stringer reclaimed a three-point lead.
On the Panther’s second possession of the fourth quarter, French Camp answered back. After Clemons made a 31-yard scamper to the Stringer four-yard line, quarterback Jesse Hosket punched it in. Gould added the extra point.
The Red Devils quickly retaliated with a 19-yard quarterback keeper by Moore. After the PAT, Stringer had a 20-17 lead over French Camp which would be enough to win the Class 1A State champion title.
We fought hard and at the end of the day they made fewer mistakes than we made,” Wright said. “Although it’s hard getting a second place trophy, it’s still a blessing to get this far.”
Clemons led the rushing attack with 19 carries for 202 yards with one touchdown. Jesse Hosket had nine carries for 61 yards with one touchdown. Daniel Hughes had six carries for 17 yards while Hagan Box had four carries for six yards.
Jesse Hosket was 8-16 through the air for 85 yards.
Box had two receptions for 40 yards. Lavondre Carter had two receptions for 18 yards while Ben Hosket had three receptions for 17 yards. Dylan Dickey had one reception for 10 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Ben Hosket led with 16 stops. Clemons, Cortez Johnson, Andrew Stevens and Douglas Hughes had eight stops each. Carter and Box both had six stops while Matthew Castle, Hughes, Jesse Hosket and Dickey each had five stops. Dickey had one sack for a loss of four yards.
The Panthers completed their season as runner up in Class 1A with an 11-3 overall record.
“I can’t say enough about our kids, and their character was exemplified here,” Wright said. “They’ve shown great maturity through the year. Early in the year we had some tough losses with Ackerman and Eupora, we just kept playing through all of that and the kids supported each other. We’re going to miss some seniors that have been great leaders. They are everything as a coach you want your team to be as far as listening and executing.”
French Camp had five seniors on their team who are all starting players. Although Coach Wright expressed how they would all be missed, he was confident that his talent-filled roster would have underclassmen to step up in the upcoming season. 2012 stats for French Camp starting players
Box had 39 carries for 386 yards with five touchdowns this season. Box had six completed passes this year for 15 yards with one touchdown, and stacked up 15 receptions for 362 yards with six touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, Box had 37 stops, six interceptions returned for a gain of 175 yards, three pass deflections and two fumble recoveries.
Ben Hosket had 19 carries for 162 yards with one touchdown, and had 16 receptions for 186 yards with three touchdowns this season. Defensively, Hosket had 148 stops, six quarterback hurries, four sacks with each for a loss of yards, three fumble recoveries, a pair of interceptions, forced fumbles and blocked punts and one pass deflection.
Carter had 25 receptions for 414 yards with eight touchdowns this season. He had five carries for 39 yards. On the defensive side of the ball, Carter had 50 stops, three interceptions returned for a gain of 80 yards and four pass deflections.
Jesse Hosket had 67 completions this year for 1094 yards with 19 touchdowns. Hosket had 79 carries for 428 yards with six touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, Hosket had 53 stops, one sack for a loss of 10 yards, three pass deflections, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Clemons led the offense this season with 200 carries for 1565 yards with 16 touchdowns. Clemons stacked up 23 pancake blocks throughout the year. On the defensive side of the ball, Clemons had 83 stops, five interceptions returned for 124 yard gain, six pass deflections, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries returned for a gain of 41 yards.
This season Gould assisted the Panthers in point production scoring 92 points. Gould split the uprights on 68 occasions this season; 56 extra points and 12 field goals.
On the offensive side of the ball, Dickey had five receptions for 72 yards with two touchdowns and had two pancake blocks. Dickey was dominant on the defensive side of the ball this season with 93 stops and a team high of 7 sacks for a loss of 35 yards. Dickey had nine quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, a pass deflection and a fumble recovery.
Offensively, Lake Koenig had three pancake blocks this season. On the defensive side of the ball, Koenig had 26 stops, one sack for a loss of yards and an interception returned for a gain of 15 yards.
Jevante McAdory had two pancake blocks this year on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively, McAdory had 46 stops, a sack for a loss of yards, three quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, a pass deflection, one fumble recovery, and one blocked field goal.
Andrew Stevens had 26 stops this season, three sacks for a loss of yards, two quarterback hurries and three fumble recoveries. Cortez Johnson racked up four pancake blocks this year. Defensively, Johnson had 83 stops, six sacks for a loss of 33 yards, three quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and two recoveries.
Offensively, Douglas Hughes had four pancake blocks this season. On the defensive side of the ball, Hughes had 87 stops, six sacks or a loss of 42 yards, four quarterback hurries, caused one fumble and recovered two.