After three years, Greene County High School makes its return to the 4A state championship game, where they'll meet undefeated Noxubee County High School. The Wild Cats (10-4) are looking for their first state title since the 2003 squad hoisted the gold ball.
While the team may have believed it could reach this point, it's fair to believe most outside observers didn't believe that, considering how many obstacles they had to overcome this season. The Wild Cats lost one of their starting linebackers in the spring, a number of wide receivers, an all-purpose player, their kicker, and even their head coach.
In early February, Head Coach Johnny Ainsworth underwent throat surgery, and couldn't be with the team for a few months. "I watched the spring game in a chair because I had to go through feeding tubes for five months," said Greene County's head man, now in his sixteenth season.
In fact he even had to miss a few regular season games, but through the playoffs, his team has persevered to take down Laurel, Tylertown, Bay High, and last week, Quitman in double-overtime. It's not so hard to understand why Ainsworth kids may want to win the title more for him then for themselves.
"Coach Ainsworth is the most humbling man I've known," said Senior wide receiver T.J. McCann, "It would mean more for me to win it for him than anybody."
"It would mean the world to him, I know, for sure because we've overcome everything this year," said Senior defensive tackle Cameron Williams.
The Wild Cats will be the underdogs against 15-0 Noxubee, but if Greene County has proven anything this year, it's that Noxubee can expect a fight to the finish. "I think it's a lot of fight and a lot of will they have in them, can't say enough about them," said Ainsworth, "They're like extended family to me."
Saturday's 4A state title kicks off in Jackson at 3:00 pm.
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