Thomas Bobo has been coaching Clinton High’s girls soccer team for 22 seasons and he’s been a part of the Clinton soccer community since he was born.
Thomas’ father, Tommy, was a part of a group of men from the Sertoma Club who started Clinton’s soccer program in the early 1970s.
“I’ve been able to carry on his legacy by coaching these girls,” Thomas said.
Thomas could make history Saturday. Clinton, 17-2-2, plays Gulfport, 20-0-4, Saturday at 4 p.m. at Ridgeland High for the Class 6A state championship. Clinton hasn’t won a state title in girls soccer since 1996. Bobo, who played soccer at Clinton High and the University of West Florida, has been to one state championship in his coaching career, losing to Tupelo 1-0 in 2003. Ironically, it was Tupelo that Clinton defeated 2-0 Tuesday in the semifinals in Clinton to advance to the state championship game.
“This group has been together for a long time and now they can finish it with a state championship,” Bobo said. “I remember several years ago I calculated that 65 percent of our roster was ninth graders or younger. They have gotten better every year.
“We had a lot of support Tuesday night against Tupelo We had a lot of former players here to help encourage the girls they could do it. And over the past 24 hours, I’ve had a lot of former players calling me. Several say they are flying in for the championship game.”
Senior midfielder Kaci Craft, a Holmes Community College signee, has been Clinton’s leading scorer for the past three seasons. Senior center midfielder Acacia Rodriguez, a Jones County Junior College signee, and junior midfielder Jada Jelks are also key players for Clinton. Bobosaid eighth grader goalkeeper Sarah Polk has been solid all season.
Cecil Hinds will be going for his eighth state soccer championship in his nine seasons at Madison Central Saturday when his boys team plays Ocean Springs at 6 p.m. at Ridgeland for the Class 6A title. Hinds won four straight boys titles from 2013-2016 and also won three girls titles.
Madison Central, 20-0-2, advanced to the title game with a 2-0 victory over Tupelo Tuesday at Tupelo. Senior midfielder Noah Garrett scored both goals and senior goalkeeper Garrett White and the Jaguar defense kept Tupelo from scoring. Madison Central has allowed only nine goals this season.
“These kids have worked very hard and they have had a tremendous season,” said Hinds, whose only two blemishes from a perfect record are 1-1 ties with Jackson Prep and Germantown. “They have earned the right to play for the championship and we hope to hoist the trophy Saturday and bring it back to Madison.”
Senior forward Fabian Barker is Madison Central’s leading scorer. Senior defender Gage Gourley and sophomore midfielder Jackson Travis are two other key players for the Jaguars.
Benton Ingram could be on his way to a MAIS Overall championship in his first year as a head coach after 12 years as an assistant.
Ingram, who played at Hillcrest Christian and Mississippi College, is in his first season as head girls basketball coach at Hartfield Academy. Ingram, 43, has led the Lady Hawks to a 23-3 record during the regular season. Hartfield begins its road to the Overall title this week with the district tournament at Simpson Academy. Hartfield plays Hillcrest Friday in the first round.
“We have gotten great leadership from our five seniors,” said Ingram, who was a boys assistant at Hillcrest for eight years, a boys assistant at Hartfield for three years and a girls assistant at Hartfield for one year before replacing Juanita Ward this season. “A great example was last week against Simpson. We were down by 13 points with five and a half minutes to go. They stayed calm and we kept playing hard and came back to force overtime and win it. It was testimony to their character.”
The top senior is 6-foot-3 forward Helena Roe, who averages 16 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocked shots despite missing three weeks with a back injury. Ingram said Roe is getting recruited by several Division I schools, many Division II and III schools and every junior college in Mississippi.
Other starters include 5-8 senior point guard Macie Rogers (11 points), 5-10 senior guard Zoe Peevy (9 points), 5-10 junior guard-forward Cailey Walker (10 points) and 5-11junior forward Mia Wheeler (18 points, 9 rebounds), a Madison Central transfer.
Hartfield’s only three losses are to Madison-Ridgeland Academy, Jackson Prep and Leake. Hartfield has split games with MRA and Prep and lost to Leake by 3.