Finishing the key for Lumberton

Finishing the key for Lumberton

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Lumberton Panthers enjoyed themselves Wednesday at the Rock. As they should have. After all the squad is one of two teams left competing for the Class 1A title.

A win on Friday in Starkville against Simmons would give the program it's fifth state title and first since 2010. It would also add fuel to an already fiery fan base.

"They really support our football team," Panthers coach Zach Jones said. "Evident this past Friday night in the south state championship game. It was wild. It was fun. And our kids enjoyed that. They enjoyed playing in front of it. I know they've got a big sendoff planned for us on Thursday so we're looking forward to that."

The Panthers won the south state title with a thrilling 50-48 overtime victory over Nanih Waiya.

"It really showed Friday night," Jones said. "Our character. We got down two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. We had several other opportunities to lay down and we did not. Our kids just kept fighting and they found a way to win in the end. So just really proud of that. We knew that. Our kids are high character kids. They play extremely hard so we're extremely proud of them."

Senior lineman Jordan Clinton brought up a word that has been key for the squad in 2016.

"Everything," Clinton said. "Consistency and effort. We did it to the finish."

It doesn't get any easier for Lumberton. Simmons is the defending state champ.

"Best team we've played so far this year.," Jones said. "Extremely fast. They've got a great back in Marquez Pam. He's not the only player they have. They have several guys who can go to the house at any time. So yeah, t's going to be our biggest test of the season."

Having improved on last year's south state final loss, Panthers coach Zach Jones knows where to place the credit. It all comes down to the word finish, something they hope to do come Friday.

"Our motto was finish when we started our off season workouts in January," Jones said. "You could tell the work ethic was different when we got back from being in the south state championship game last year. Our kids wanted to get back to that point but get even further. So you could tell. The main thing was our work ethic was different and our kids through the summer, I think we had 40, 41 kids who made every workout this summer. They were pushed really hard this summer and that stuff's paying off for them right now."

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