Jackson Prep won its 10th straight MAIS boys soccer championship Saturday. But for the first time during this amazing decade of winning state titles Prep had to go into overtime to win it.
Prep outlasted Jackson Academy 2-0 by scoring two goals in the last six minutes of the second 10-minute overtime period to win the Division I title at JA.
After a scoreless 80 minutes of regulation and 10 minutes of the first overtime period, Prep sophomore Jacob Davis, who was playing since Preston Speed injured his ankle in the first 15 minutes of the game, made a crossing pass to senior midfielder Blake Painter, who kicked in the winning goal into the right corner of the goal past the outstretched hands of JA goal keeper Robert Culpepper with 6 minutes, 30 seconds to play. Then junior midfielder Dylan Harrigill placed a corner kick into the middle of the field and senior Preston Oden headed the ball into the goal with 3 minutes to play for a 2-0 lead.
Sophomore goalkeeper Walker Headley and Prep defenders J.C. Polk, a senior, and Seth Polk, a junior, anchored Prep’s defense Saturday and didn’t allow a goal.
Prep finished with a 17-6-2 record and avenged a 2-0 loss to JA two weeks at Prep, which ended a 59-game winning streak over MAIS teams, dating back to the 2016-2017 season when it lost to JA. Prep has now won 175 out of its last 176 games vs. MAIS teams dating back to 2010 season. In addition, Prep came into Saturday’s championship game as the No. 2 seed for the first time since 2010. Prep defeated JA for the fourth straight year in the title game.
“I knew it was going to be a tight game because JA is very good and had beaten us earlier in the season,” said Duncan, who is assisted by T Jay Bustin. “I told the guys that people will remember the last game of the season more than games during the season so we needed to play well today and finish strong.
“Our fitness kicked in late in the game and I feel like that was the difference. We work on our fitness a lot during the first month of practice. It paid off today. We played well in the last 10 minutes of regulation and when we played the last 10 minutes of overtime we got our second wind and didn’t look tired. We expect our players to stay hydrated during the entire season and we work on short and long distance to get them ready for games like these.”
Duncan, who is in his 20th season at Prep, won his 26th state championship, 14 boys and 12 girls. Duncan’s girls team defeated JA 2-1 this fall for the state title, Prep’s first since 2015. Prep had lost to JA eight straight times before winning the title and ending JA’s three year state title streak.
Duncan beat his former player, first-year JA coach Phillip Buffington, for the second time this year in a championship match. Buffington, who took over for Robert Gardner this season and doubled as the girls coach, led Prep to four straight state titles. Buffington, who is considered one of the top boys players to ever play soccer in Mississippi, set the Mississippi record with 61 goals his senior season at Prep in 2005. Duncan’s first year at Prep was when Buffington was an eighth-grader. Buffington played one year at Marshall then three years at Mississippi College. He played three years of pro soccer, two in the United States and one in Australia. He has been coaching club soccer with the Mississippi Fire, now Mississippi Rush, since 2012 and was head coach at Manchester Academy in Yazoo City from 2013-2016 before coming to JA in the fall of 2016.
JA finished with a 16-2 record, losing to Prep twice, once Saturday and once a 2-1 decision Jan. 21 at Prep. It is the first time JA had been shut out since last year’s championship game against Prep