LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - Since their first practice in October 2016, the Golden Tornadoes have been waiting to put up the notice on the board outside of their high school: Laurel vs. Neshoba Central in the 5A state title on Friday at 8 p.m.
"When I took this job, like I said I wanted to make this a perennial powerhouse where every year," said Laurel head coach Marcus Price. "Everybody had to come through Laurel. We had to be a part of the conversation for the state championship. And now we've done that for the last few years. Now we're sitting in front of the best opportunity that we'll probably ever have in terms of going back-to-back."
Laurel has the opportunity to repeat as state champions after beating Oxford 67-65 in Tuesday's 5A semifinals.
Despite the state's leading scorer Jarkel Joiner scoring 35 points for the Chargers, the Tornadoes prevailed.
"Our team, our family has overcome the adversity that we had in that game," Price said. "And we had some adversity. And that's a part of life is overcoming adversity and understanding when things are tough, that's when you dig in and you fight even harder to make sure that you have the heart of a champion."
Not long after Laurel hoisted the 2016 state championship trophy, the countdown to the 2017 season began. There's a calendar up in the Laurel locker room on which the team grades each practice. In Thursday's final meeting, coach Price had to remind his team that the Tornado calendar ends on March 10, not one day prior.
"Every goal that we've set for the year we've accomplished up to this point," Price said. "We have one game left and one game only. And the one game is bigger than any player, bigger than any coach, bigger than anybody, bigger than any individual. It's all about the family. It's all about the team. We're at a point where there is no tomorrow. After tomorrow that's it. We have no more games this year and every rep in practice is what's going to prepare us for tomorrow. If we go out and give our best and they do everything we ask them to do, no matter what the outcome is we're still going to be winners based on the fact – but I am going to win. I'm not driving to Jackson to lose. Our intention is to win."