At a Glance: MAIS Football State Championships
CLASS AAAA, DIVISION I
JACKSON PREP (11-1) vs. MRA (12-0)
Kickoff: Friday, 6 p.m., at Mississippi College
Jackson Prep at a Glance
Coach: Ricky Black
State Championships: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2002, 2000, 1998, 1991, 1990, 1988, 1984, 1983, 1981, 1980, 1979, 1977, 1974, 1972, 1971.
State Championship Appearances: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1996, 1991, 1990, 1988, 1986, 1984, 1983, 1981, 1980, 1979, 1977, 1974, 1972, 1971.
Players to Watch: RB Jerrion Ealy; QB Jake Lange; WR/DB Peyton Greenwood; LB Dixon Hughes; DE J.C. Polk; OL Charlie Ott
How they got here: First Round Bye; def. Jackson Academy 42-21.
Coach Speak: “This matchup compares to one we had several years ago with Jackson Academy. It is tough to beat the same team two times in a row in the same season,” Black said. “They dominated us in the regular. We believe our passing game is better since the last time we played and gives us more options offensively and frees up Jerrion Ealy running the ball.”
MRA at a Glance
Coach: Herbert Davis
State Championships: 2004, 1992
State Championship Appearances: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 1997, 1992, 1985.
Players to Watch: QB Philip Short; WR/SS Joe Perkins; TE/DE Samuel Shufelt; TE/DE John Cartwright; SB/LB Ridge Futral; LB Stone Blanton
How they got here: First Round Bye; def. Parklane Academy 35-7.
Coach Speak: “We got them (Jackson Prep) one time, but I know for a fact they will be fired up and ready to get after us,” Davis said. “In the past we’ve had trouble thinking we can beat them and now maybe we can think we can beat them. It is two good football teams so whoever does all the fundamentals well and makes the least number of mistakes will win the game.”
Buzz: It is an all-Patriot match-up once again for the state championship in the MAIS’ highest classification. Jackson Prep is looking for revenge after being whipped 42-21 by MRA back on Oct. 12. They are playing for a historic seventh straight state championship. Prep is led by running backs Matt Jones and Ole Miss commit Jerrion Ealy. Prep has been improving in the passing game lately behind quarterback Jake Lange, combining with Peyton Greenwood and Spence Graves at wide receiver. MRA is led by an offense that is averaging 44.6 points per game anchored by quarterback Philip Short. Receivers Joe Perkins, Ridge Futral, Landes Purnell and Justin Williams have been huge. Running backs William Milam and Josh Tucker are formidable. The MRA defense only gives up 13.3 points per game led by defensive ends Samuel Shufelt and John Cartwright, along with linebacker Stone Blanton. It’ll be close but MRA snaps a six-game losing streak in state championship games.
Our Pick: MRA 31-24
CLASS AAAA, DIVISION II
LAMAR SCHOOL (9-3) vs. SIMPSON ACADEMY (10-3)
Kickoff: Thursday, 2:30 p.m., at Jackson Academy
Lamar School at a Glance
Coach: Mac Barnes
State Championships: 2017, 2016, 2013, 2007, 2003
State Championship Appearances: 2017, 2016, 2013, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2003, 1982
Players to Watch: QB Joseph Hutchinson; WR/SS William Lamar; WR/DB Jacob Partridge; RB/DB Brooks Brock; WR/SS Payton Mayatt
How they got here: First Round Bye; def. Pillow Academy 41-36.
Coach Speak: “In 13 months this is the fourth time we will playing Simpson, so we are familiar with each other. The teams like to play because it brings out the best in both,” Barnes said. “Our strength on offense is their weakness on defense and their strength on offense is our weakness on defense. It becomes a game of matchups and Simpson has a culture of being physical. The more important the game is the better our players play so we will see how it goes.”
Simpson Academy at a Glance
Coach: Dan Napier
State Championships: 2013, 2011, 2005, 2004, 2003, 1973
State Championship Appearances: 2017, 2013, 2011, 2005, 2004, 2003, 1997, 1973
Players to Watch: QB/DB/K Hooks Harvey; TE/DE Thomas Pepper; FB/DE Daniel Pepper; OL/DL Cole McAlpin; RB/LB Corbin Hosey
How they got here: def. Copiah Academy 35-13; def. Magnolia Heights 27-23.
Coach Speak: “It has been five years since Simpson has won a state title, so we are due for one and last year it was so close, so heartbreaking it would mean a lot,” Napier said. “Every time we play Lamar it is always close, and it will come down to turnovers. We are so familiar with each other, so it really comes down to execution.”
Buzz: It is always a close game when the Cougars and Raiders meet. Lamar has won the last three meetings between the two teams, including a 38-30 shootout win back on Oct. 19. It is also a meeting of two different style of offenses. Simpson is led by a punishing rushing attack led by quarterback Hooks Harvey, along with running backs Corbin Hosey, Caleb Garner and fullback Daniel Pepper. Lamar is led by a potent passing attack that averages 258.6 yards per game led by quarterback Joseph Hutchinson. The receivers are William Lamar, Payton Mayatt and Jacob Partridge while the running back featured will be Brooks Brock. It has been a while but the fourth time is the charm for the Cougars.
Our Pick: Simpson Academy 35-34
ADAMS COUNTY CHRISTIAN (5-7) vs. INDIANOLA ACADEMY (12-1)
Kickoff: Saturday, 6:30 p.m., at Jackson Academy
Adams Christian at a Glance
Coach: David King
State Championships: 1982
State Championship Appearances: 2016, 2014, 1982
Players to Watch: QB Sterling Yarbrough; RB/WR Jakarius Caston; DB Kemari Clark; LB Dawson Parker; TE/LB Yohan Thompson
How they got here: def. Bowling Green (La.) 30-19; def. Starkville Academy 32-13; def. Heritage Academy 28-10.
Coach Speak: “We are just blessed to be here after what happened during the regular season. It has been an ‘us against the world’ type of mentality with all we’ve been through this year. We’ve beaten some really good teams to get here,” King said. “Indianola beat us in this state championship game two years ago and they are so well-coached and have some outstanding players. One thing we have to do is handle the environment and make some big plays in space.”
Indianola Academy at a Glance
Coach: Tommy Nester
State Championships: 2016, 1976, 1975, 1973
State Championship Appearances: 2017, 2016, 2015, 1982, 1976, 1975, 1974, 1973
Players to Watch: QB Will Davis; TE/LB Stefon Smith; TE/LB/P Josh Hill; RB/LB Wesley Lester; RB/DB Dede Willis
How they got here: def. Park Place 42-12; def. Bayou Academy 16-13; def. Central Hinds 34-3.
Coach Speak: “Fourth straight year we’ve been able to get to this point and we’re very excited to be here and excited to be playing in this game again,” Nester said. “Adams is going to be a big test. They have great team speed and can score from anywhere on the field. They are a complete ball team and we’re going to have to play a complete game to stay in it. We are going to have to sustain drives and keep their offense off the field.”
Buzz: For the second time in three years the Colonels and Rebels will battle for the MAIS Class AAA state championship. Indianola Academy won 42-7 over ACCS to win the state title in 2016. ACCS had to forfeit their first seven games due to an ineligible player and had to win all three playoff games on the road to reach the state title game. The Rebels are led by a potent offense that averages 37.3 points per game. Quarterback Sterling Yarbrough and running back Jakarius Caston lead the way. The big question mark for ACCS is if Yohan Thompson can play due to an injury. Indianola is always led by a dominant rushing attack led by quarterback Will Davis and running backs Wesley Lester and Dede Willis. The Colonel defense only allows 11.2 points per game and is the difference.
Pick: Indianola Academy 21-17
CENTREVILLE ACADEMY (8-5) vs. GREENVILLE ST. JOSEPH (11-1)
Kickoff: Saturday, 2:30 p.m., at Jackson Academy
Centreville Academy at a Glance
Coach: Bill Hurst
State Championships: 2014, 2008, 2007, 1999, 1998, 1991, 1989, 1979, 1976
State Championship Appearances: 2014, 2013, 2008, 2007, 2004, 1999, 1998, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1985, 1979, 1976
Players to Watch: RB/DB Cody Brashier; RB/SS Devon Parrish; RB/LB Daniel Vine; TE/LB Colton Peterson; OL/DL Logan Longmire
How they got here: def. Carroll Academy 40-14; def. Winona Christian 38-14; def. Sylva-Bay Academy 40-38 (OT).
Coach Speak: “It is an honor to be able to get here and it has been a rough season for us. St. Joe has ended our season two years in a row in the playoffs and now we get them in state championship game,” Hurst said. “Proud of our kids. They’ve worked hard and have some leadership and are playing well right now. St. Joe has bigger, faster running backs than we do and hopefully our line can hold to up to theirs. That’ll determine the outcome of the game.”
Greenville St. Joseph at a Glance
Coach: John Baker
State Championships: 2017
State Championship Appearances: 2017
Players to Watch: QB Dillon Johnson; RB Trey Benson; RB/DE Jacob Nelson; LB Darius Motton; OL Brittian Virden
How they got here: def. Glenbrook (La.) 52-7; def. Clinton Christian 26-20; def. Brookhaven Academy 40-0.
Coach Speak: “It is special attempting to win back-to-back state championships. We have a handful of players that played in this game last year, so we’re hoping that experience helps,” Baker said. “Last year we were about 80 percent passing and this year we are 80 percent rushing. We started off the year kinda rough and we turned things around quick. We have two special players in the backfield with Benson and Johnson and it makes running the read option a lot easier when you have two guys of that caliber. Centreville is very fundamental team and Coach Hurst is a great coach. They are really good up front, so we got our hands full.”
Buzz: Greenville St. Joe has ended the Centreville Academy season in the playoffs each of the last two years. It will be a battle of two heavy run teams. Greenville St. Joe is averaging 297.6 yards per game on the ground led by quarterback Dillon Johnson and running back Trey Benson. The Irish defense only gives up 14 points a game led by linebacker Darius Motton. Centreville Academy is led by a the always potent running game that averages just over 200 yards per game. They have a plethora of running backs in Cody Brashier, Devon Parrish and Daniel Vine. The Irish running game just too much in this one.
Pick: Greenville St. Joe 31-21
TUNICA ACADEMY (11-0) vs. UNION CHRISTIAN (LA.) (6-5)
Kickoff: Thursday, 6:30 p.m., at Jackson Academy
Tunica Academy at a Glance
Coach: John Holcombe
State Championships: 1991
State Championship Appearances: 1995, 1991
Players to Watch: QB/DB Bradley Hord; RB/LB Abdullah Obad; RB/DE Elijah McGee; TE/DE Bailey Melton; OL/DL Landon Sowell
How they got here: First Round Bye; def. West Memphis (Ark.) 38-18.
Coach Speak: “It is great for the players and the whole school and community to make it this far,” Holcombe said. “Union has a ton of speed and we’ve got to do a really good job defensively of tackling. Our style is a downhill run team and we try to slow the game down. We just do what we do.”
Union Christian at a Glance
Coach: Trey Fulton
State Championships: None
State Championship Appearances: First appearance
Players to Watch: QB/SS Kris Evans; RB/LB Nick Evans; WR/LB Josh Warren; WR/DB Brandon Hunter; OL/DL Hunter Pate
How they got here: First Round Bye; def. Columbus Christian 28-20.
Buzz: Tunica Academy is making its first appearance in a state championship game since 1995, while Union Christian is in it for the first time ever. The Blue Devils are averaging 38.4 points per game offensively and are led by a ground game featuring running backs Elijah McGee and Abdullah Obad. The Tunica defense only allows 10.2 points per game. Union Christian is led by an offense that is averaging 36.4 points per game led by quarterback Kris Evans, along with running back Nick Evans and receivers Josh Warren and Brandon Hunter. The Blue Devil defense is the difference in this one.
Pick: Tunica Academy 30-20
MANCHESTER ACADEMY (12-0) vs. TALLULAH (LA.) (13-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, 11 a.m., at Jackson Academy
Manchester Academy at a Glance
Coach: Bryan Dendy
State Championships: 1984, 1983
State Championship Appearances: 2000, 1984, 1983
Players to Watch: QB/FS Upton Hitt; OL/DL Hayes Bardwell; RB/LB Michael Williams; RB/DE Dylan Dendy; ATH Parks Poe; ATH Jon Riley Poe
How they got here: def. Briarfield (La.) 42-14; def. Humphreys Academy 42-6.
Coach Speak: “We are blessed and excited to get this point we haven’t made it to a state championship game since 2000. Excited about the opportunity to play a really good Tallulah team and try to prepare our kids the best we can and go out and play,” Dendy said. “Tallulah is very well coached and they got a bunch of athletes especially the quarterback. Hopefully we can have a good week of practice and come ready to play Saturday morning.”
Tallulah (La.) at a Glance
Coach: Annon Etheridge
State Championships: 2016, 2015, 1992
State Championship Appearances: 2016, 2015, 2014, 1992
Players to Watch: QB Josh Collins; RB Garrett Paris; WR/DB Graham Tweedle; OL Marsh Wood; DE Parker Morgan
How they got here: def. Sharkey-Issaquena 58-8; def. Prairie View (La.) 52-20.
Coach Speak: “This is our fourth time in five years to reach the state championship. Our guys have lived up to the challenge and are excited to be back and take care of business,” Etheridge said. “Manchester is a very physical football team just like us. Both teams have ran through their schedule, so it will be a challenge and we got to play our best brand of football to come out with a win.”
Buzz: It will be a battle of unbeaten’s as the Trojans take on the Mavericks for the 8-Man title. Expect an offensive explosion as Tallulah is averaging 54.1 points per game and Manchester Academy is averaging 42.9 points per game. Tallulah is averaging 319.1 yards led by quarterback Josh Collins and running back Garrett Paris. Manchester is averaging just over 300 yards per game rushing led by quarterback Upton Hitt and running backs Dylan Dendy and Michael Williams. The twins, Jon Riley Poe and Parks Poe, are ones to watch for the Mavericks. There will be a lot of points but the Manchester defense only gives up 12 points per game and will make the difference.
Pick: Manchester Academy 40-30