Canton Academy braces for 2023 season as defending MAIS 3A champs

Published: Aug. 3, 2023 at 9:59 PM CDT
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CANTON, Miss. (WLBT) - Undefeated in district play, 12 wins, one loss, and a 3A MAIS Championship win: that was Canton Academy’s accomplishments last season.

This year, they know the slate has been wiped clean and all eyes are on them as the Panthers become the hunted.

“It’s a new beginning, new start, new team. So, [we] can’t really base this season off last year’s season,” Chris Hunter said.

“We’re trying to drill into our guys that we have to play as the contender… the target is on their backs,” head coach Gage Posey said.

Even though Canton Academy has made it to the championship round two years in a row, Coach Posey understands that the road to success isn’t easy and that it looks a little different each season.

“You know, coming off of a state championship last year, the kids kind of feel like they already know what they need to do… but I’m a firm believer that you have to adapt and be different each year in order to win,” he said.

One big thing that won’t change is their toughness - mentally and physically.

“You’ve got to have that dog in you. You’ve got to have that ‘finish’ mentality,” Cruz Johnson said.

“I think a lot of teams aren’t as physical as us and we want to be the most physical in the 3A MAIS,” Hunter said.

The Panthers plan on adding another ring to their collection by the end of the season, and as long as they are giving everything they’ve got when they step on the field, Posey thinks they’ll be just fine.

“I get 100 percent effort…. So, I think for 4 quarters we’re going to see the Canton Academy Panthers give great effort and I think that can separate us at the end of this thing,” he said.

Canton Academy will open its title-defending season against Carroll Academy on August 18.

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