Desoto County Sports

Hernando wins 7A state soccer championship, Mustangs second in 6A

Photo: Hernando Tigers won the MHSAA 7A state boys’ soccer championship. (Courtesy Amanda Uselton)  

Hernando is the MHSAA 7A state boys’ soccer champion with a 2-0 shutout of last year’s 6A champ Northwest Rankin, while Center Hill took soccer power Long Beach to the very end before falling to the Bearcats 3-2 in the 6A championship match.  

Tyler Starnes and Parks Raffety put goals on the scoreboard for Hernando in the 7A final, played at Ridgeland High School Saturday evening while goalkeeper Wilson Crain kept every Cougar opportunity out of the net. 

Hernando won a state title in its first appearance in a state championship game.  

Starnes, also named the game’s Most Valuable Player, opened the scoring off a set piece in the first half. Raffety would put the game away with a penalty kick goal that came with 25 minutes remaining, setting off a celebration with the end of the game. 

The Tigers of coach Mark Hogan finished the season with a 19-3 record and reached the state final round with victories over Starkville, Clinton, and Oxford.  Northwest Rankin ended the year with a 22-2-2 mark and made the finals with wins over St. Martin, Ocean Springs, and Gulfport.  The four-time state champions were trying to win in its ninth finals appearance and first since 2022.  

While Hernando was winning the 7A crown, Center Hill was attempting to do the same against Long Beach, which was seeking its fourth straight title.  

A late goal in the 79th minute of the second half by the Bearcats’ Easton Van Norden was the difference against the Mustangs, coached by David Hoggatt. Michael Sanders scored both Center Hill goals, including a penalty kick goal with about five minutes remaining.  Sanders scored earlier in the first half.  

Center Hill ended its year with a 19-3 record.  The Mustangs reached the finals with wins over Columbus, Ridgeland, and Warren Central.  

Saturday’s contest was Center Hill’s third state championship appearance with earlier appearances in 2019 and 2020. The Mustangs won the 2019 5A state championship.