November 21, 2012 9:32:48 AM
LOUISVILLE -- M.C. Miller, Louisville High School, and Noxubee County High will be linked together eternally.
When Miller left Noxubee County High School after 16 seasons as head coach to replace Brad Peterson as coach of archrival Louisville, he knew what he was getting in to.
"Louisville knows how to win," Miller said. "When I first got to Noxubee they just wanted to win a few games. At Louisville, they expect you to win."
Despite a better than expected 8-5 record in his first year at Louisville in 2010 and a 12-2 mark in 2011, Miller said he heard the negative talk making its way around Winston County this season after the Wildcats started 3-3.
"Everybody loves a winner," said Miller, who an assistant football coach and head boys track and field coach at Louisville before he returned to Noxubee County to be the head football coach. "When you are winning, everybody is talking about you, but when you are losing it can get negative. Most of them doing the talking don't even know anything about football or what they are talking about. We felt like we were going to be OK and that things would come together."
Louisville (10-4) has won seven of its last eight games and will travel Friday to Macon to take on Noxubee County (14-0) for the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A North State championship.
Miller, a Louisville native, drove past Louisville High on his way to work at Noxubee County High. Now he will try to help Louisville crush Noxubee County's dreams of winning its second state championship.
When Noxubee County was winning its first state title in 2008, Louisville, then under the direction of Peterson and competing in Class 3A, was winning its seventh.
"We came here to Louisville to win another state championship," Miller said. "I believe if we play like we can, we can do it in the next couple of years. If we can beat Noxubee, it might even be this year."
Miller put a lot of blood and sweat into building Noxubee County into what it is today and has many fond memories.
"When we got there they weren't used to winning," he said. "In fact, they had one of the longest losing streaks in the state at one time. We just kept working and building the program. The talent was there. They just started believing themselves."
While the expectations weren't high when he first took the head job at Macon, Miller said there never has been any doubt of what was expected of him when he took over at Louisville.
"They want the gold ball," Miller said. "That's it."
Miller and the Wildcats are 1-2 against Noxubee County since he returned to Louisville, taking a 14-12 win in Macon last year and dropping a 41-28 decision at R.E. Hinze Stadium on Oct. 18 in Louisville. That was the last game the Wildcats have lost.
"We just didn't play very well in the first half," Miller said. "We dropped some passes we should have caught and just got ourselves into a hole. We came back, but it was just too late."
After leading 28-0 lead at halftime, the Tigers -- ranked No. 2 in the state by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger -- held on for the victory.
Louisville earned its first two state championships in 1985 and 1986 under legendary coach Mike Justice. It also won titles in 1991, 1993, 1995, 2007, and 2008.
Louisville has won all seven state title games it has appeared in, while Noxubee County has played for the title twice, both under Miller. It lost to Laurel in the 2007 state championship game and defeated D'Iberville 12-10 in the 2008 game.
"We felt like we could have won one or two more (at Noxubee)," Miller. "I believe if I had stayed we may have already won another one. But right now I want to get one in Louisville."