HHS team claims South State title


The Hattiesburg Tigers punched their ticket to the 5A State Championship for the first time since 1998 after beating rival Laurel 33-22 last Friday in the South State Championship at D.I. Patrick Stadium.

The Tigers (14-0) will turn their attention to West Point (14-0) for the State Championship at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, in Oxford. The game will be played at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on the campus of Ole Miss, and it’s the final of six state championship games during the weekend.

During Friday night’s game, Laurel took an early 3-0 lead against Hattiesburg, and after a slow start, the Hattiesburg offense caught fire in the second and fourth quarters to pull away from the Golden Tornadoes.

This is Hattiesburg’s fifth trip to the State Championship in the program’s history (1989, 1992, 1995 and 1998), and this is head coach Tony Vance’s fifth trip as a high school coach (2004, 2005, 2011 and 2012) – all while at Charleston. He was an assistant for the first two trips, and a head coach for the latter two.

“We worked hard to get to this point,” Vance said. “At that moment, we did it. It wasn’t me, it wasn’t just our team, wasn’t just our school, it wasn’t just our district, it was the whole city. It felt like the whole city was behind us and supporting us. We did it as a city, it felt like. I just wanted to turn around and acknowledge them and thank them for the support.”