By Robert Wilson
Jackson Academy sophomore wide receiver Dan Smith received an offer from LSU earlier this year when the Raiders played at Oak Forest, La. After Friday night’s performance many more SEC teams might be offering Smith as well.
Smith caught a 37-yard touchdown pass with 47 seconds to play to give JA a 28-21, come-from-behind victory over Jackson Prep in the MAIS Class 6A semifinals at Prep, ending a 12-game series losing streak to Prep. Smith caught 11 passes for 131 yards and two TDs for JA.
With Smith’s older brother Deion Smith – an Under Armour All-American senior wide receiver – out after foot surgery, Dan was the main target for JA senior quarterback Jackson Conn. Dan caught four passes for 69 yards in the fourth quarter, including a 17-yard catch on the JA sideline on third down and on the next play, the winning, 37-yard TD catch despite being double-covered, as JA outscored Prep 21-0 in the fourth quarter.
For his outstanding performance, Dan Smith has been named the Junction Deli/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Football Player of Year.
The Smith brothers transferred from Provine this fall after Jackson Public Schools decided to cancel its football season. Their first game was the third game of the season against Madison-Ridgeland Academy. Dan has caught 39 passes for 574 yards and four TDs and ran eight times for 91 yards and one TD in eight games this season.
“With Deion not being able to play, Dan stepped it up and took up the slack,” JA coach Lance Pogue said. “Dan is a very talented athlete and rose to the occasion. He wanted to the ball with the game on the line. Dan made several great catches during the game and made a one-handed catch while being double-covered for the winning touchdown.”
Dan’s first TD came when Jackson threw the ball up in the end zone and Dan out jumped the defender, fell on his back and hung onto the ball for the TD despite getting the breath knocked out of him.
JA, 10-3, won its sixth straight game and meets defending 6A state champion MRA, 11-0 and a 42-14 winner over Presbyterian Christian in the other semifinal, Saturday at 1:15 p.m. at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson. MRA defeated JA 20-10 Sept. 4 at JA. MRA has won 18 straight games and 29 of its last 30 vs. MAIS teams.