By Austin Bishop
The Choctaw Plaindealer
Nearly two months after winning the first state football championship in school history, the French Camp Academy Panthers got a chance to relive their 27-6 win over Smithville once again.
Officials from the Mississippi High School Activities Association made a stop in French Camp last Wednesday to present the school with its official banner for winning the MHSAA Class 1A State Football Championship in early December.
“As a private school we are honored to be a part of the Mississippi High School Activities Association,” said FCA head football coach Nathan Wright.
The banner was presented by MHSAA director of development Todd Kelly and representatives from Farm Bureau before the student body at the beginning of a regular chapel program.
“It was an awesome honor to watch FCA play and win the championship,” said Kimble Winstead of Farm Bureau-Choctaw County.
The MHSAA has traveled the state presenting a state championship banner to winners of each of the six classifications.
“We’ve done a lot of championship banner presentations, but this is the first one in a church,” Kelly quipped.
The Panthers put together a remarkable season. After beginning the year 0-4, FCA battled back to win four straight before behind manhandled by Pelahatchie 50-21. The next week the Panthers defeated Ethel 36-0 and began to pick up steam as previously injured players began to return to the lineup.
The next week the Panthers handily defeated a strong Nanih Waiya team 54-6 and from that point began to roll. Once the playoffs began the Panthers beat Bogue Chitto 37-34, Lumberton 30-20 and Stringer 56-35 to set up the matchup with Smithville.
“It makes it a lot sweeter,” Wright said of being able to battle through adversity and come away with a state championship. “If you can get anything out of football, that’s what you want to get. You want to see guys go through the ups and downs and still be able to persevere. The kids could have given it up several times, but they didn’t. They never quit on us or themselves.”
And because of that, the honors just seem to keep on coming.