By Robert Wilson
Madison-Ridgeland Academy Under Armour All-American senior linebacker Stone Blanton is getting closer to 100 percent like he was last football season.
That’s not good news for the rest of MRA’s opponents.
Raleigh High, rated as the second-best MHSAA Class 3A team, felt the sting of the 6-foot-2, 228-pound Blanton Friday night.
Blanton made a season-high 21 tackles, many on Raleigh’s talented running back Suntraine Perkins, rated as the No. 1 player in Mississippi in the Class of 2023 by 247 Sports, to lead MRA to a 34-12 victory at Raleigh.
For his outstanding performance, Blanton has been named the Junction Deli/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Football Player of the Week.
Blanton – a member of the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Preseason Elite Eleven – also had five tackles for loss and three sacks against Raleigh, which had only 45 total yards until it went on a 94-yard scoring drive after Blanton and the first-team defense were out of the game.
Blanton, who had shoulder surgery this spring, has 67 tackles, 12 for loss, five sacks, one forced fumble, one pass breakup and two hurries for two-time defending MAIS Class 6A state champion MRA this season, which is 4-3 and riding a three-game winning streak going into this week’s game at Jackson Prep. MRA had its 19-game winning streak broken in the season opener by defending MAIS Class 3A state champion Greenville Christian, now ranked No. 58 in the nation by MaxPreps. Blanton did not play in that game. When Blanton is in the lineup, MRA has not lost a game against MAIS competition since his sophomore season. He has started since the eighth grade. Blanton played only a half in MRA’s second game against Natchez Cathedral and has been gradually improving this season. Blanton had 13 tackles, most of them in the second half, in MRA’s 35-7 victory over Jackson Academy two weeks ago.
“Stone has put together six good quarters in a row,” MRA coach Herbert Davis said. “He is finally getting comfortable with reads and mobility after not practicing all summer. And he’s feeling better about his shoulder. Stone definitely had his best game Friday, but we saw glimpse of it in the second half of the JA game.”
Blanton had 99 tackles and five sacks and led MRA to a 12-0 record last season. He had a career-high 22 tackles against Presbyterian Christian School and 17 against Trinity, Texas, Christian in the season opener.
Blanton is rated as the No. 7 player in Mississippi and the No. 34 top linebacker in the country by 247 Sports. Blanton, who wants to play football and baseball in college, has 21 Division I football offers, including SEC schools Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Tennessee.
Mississippi Scoreboard selects a football player from Hinds, Madison, or Rankin counties each week. Coaches can nominate a player by text or call to Robert Wilson at 601.506.2276 or email [email protected].