LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - "I didn't think it would actually ever happen," said West Jones senior forward Jacob Gieger when asked about the Mustangs first state championship berth in school history.
Most of the West Jones boys soccer team was speechless as the clock ticked down in Tuesday's 2-1 South State title win over West Harrison. It might have been hard to measure much of a pulse from head coach Joshua Sullivan when the official announced the stoppage time.
"The center official said, 'Three minutes,'" Sullivan said. "And we're like, 'Three minutes?' So we start counting that three minutes down and like two minutes and 58 seconds is what it finally counted down to but it seemed like eternity. Maybe like three and a half hours."
Coach Sullivan captured a state championship with the Lady Mustangs in 2015 but he says coaching this boys group has been gratifying in its own way.
"They do a phenomenal job all the way around," Sullivan said. "It makes my job, while it's never easy, it just seems to make it more comforting knowing I got guys that are going to be there pushing guys without me having to scream and holler every day."
"It's just surreal," Gieger said. "I feel like Monday we'll come back out here and practice but I know it's not going to happen. Hopefully we can go out on a good note tomorrow night."
The Mustangs face off against the Oxford Chargers at 6:00 on Saturday. Oxford won the state title in 2013. West Jones is the first Jones County boys soccer team to appear in a state championship game.
"If we can overcome the moment and be bigger than that moment and just play good soccer, I think it's going to be a good game," Sullivan said. "Win or lose, we go out there and give it everything we have, the experience is going to be phenomenal. And I do believe if we play Mustang soccer, that we'll be able to bring that back to Jones County."