MAIS 3A Preview: Greenville St. Joe Led By Johnson And Benson

Greenville St Joe athlete Dillon Johnson. Photo by Chris Brooks.

If there is one thing Greenville St. Joe Head Coach John Baker is worried about it’s complacency.

“The kids know what we’ve got to get better at,” Baker said. “We can’t get complacent. We have teams aiming for us, so we better be ready no matter the opponent. In 3A this year it’s going to be very competitive. The one team that has beaten us the last two years is Indianola Academy and they’re 3A. We better be ready.”

In the new MAIS Class 3A is the smallest 11-man classification which consists of teams that were in A, AA and the smaller AAA teams from last year.

The good news is the Irish return 10 starters and that includes all the skill positions.

Mississippi State commit Dillon Johnson is back at quarterback to lead the offense after throwing for 957 yards with 12 touchdowns and rushing for 1,665 yards with 18 touchdowns last year.

Oregon commit Trey Benson is back to help anchor the ground game after rushing for 1,833 yards with 22 touchdowns. He also had an interception return, a fumble return and a kickoff return for a touchdown last year.

The top returning wide receiver is Kaleb Lockett who had 589 yards receiving with 10 touchdowns.

“We have all the skill guys back and we want to double up from last year,” Baker said. “Trey and Dillon are ready to roll and work well together. We will be distributing the ball around more, so receivers will have to step up.”

Defensively the Irish have six starters returning that will lean heavily on the secondary.

Johnson (126 tackles, three interceptions last year) along with Benson (four interceptions), Lockett (three interceptions) and Elvis Scott (54 tackles, three interceptions) are back in the secondary.

Bailey Mitchell and Jordan Scott are back to lead the defensive line and a very inexperienced front seven.

“We don’t have a Darius Motton back at linebacker and he’s going to be missed,” Baker said. “We have openings to fill at defensive end and at linebacker, so we need to find guys to step up.”

NEXT IN LINE

Indianola Academy: Indianola has reached the MAIS Class AAA state championship game in each of the last four years and are solid contenders again this season. Indianola is breaking in a new quarterback but will have two experienced running backs returning to lead the run-heavy offense in Woods Toler and James Hill. The quarterback battle is between Spencer Robertson and Walker Zaponi. All receivers will be new this year for the Colonels. Defensively, Indianola has four starters back but must replace all of the linebacker positions. Peyton Barnes and Ashton Powell return to lead the front seven, while Robertson along with Brandon Brown and Houstin Danna will anchor the secondary.

Other teams to watch in 3A include Centreville Academy, Winona Christian, Sylva-Bay Academy, Carroll Academy, Central Holmes, Greenville Christian, Marshall Academy and Tunica Academy.

Top 5

  1. Greenville St. Joe
  2. Indianola Academy
  3. Winona Christian
  4. Centreville Academy
  5. Sylva-Bay Academy

GAMES TO WATCH

Sept. 13: Greenville Christian at Greenville St. Joseph

Sept. 20: Indianola Academy at Winona Christian

Oct. 4: Marshall Academy at Tunica Academy

Oct. 4: Sylva-Bay Academy at Centreville Academy

Oct. 11: Tunica Academy at Central Holmes

Oct. 18: Winona Christian at Marshall Academy