The referee signals another Madison Central Jaguar touchdown and the stands go wild. The scoring player, wearing a white No. 1 jersey, stops to pick up the football and hands it to the referee before a quick celebration with his teammates. He heads over to the sidelines, glances up in the stands at a man and woman and smiles. The sideline photographer focuses in on the couple in the bleachers. They are on their feet screaming as loud as they can. The woman is waving orange and blue pom poms, while the man cups his mouth to yell his approval of the score. The photographer stops to snap a few pictures of them, wearing matching t-shirts emblazoned with the No. 1. They are the parents of Madison Central’s star quarterback, Jimmy “The Jet” Holiday and they never miss a game.
The former Kearney Park Cowboy has been playing football since he was four years old. Even from a very young age, it was apparent that the former Kearney Park Cowboy had talent. He was born into a family of athletes. His mother, April, played basketball and ran track. His father, Jimmy, was on the football, basketball, and track teams. His brother, Brendan Smith, was also a football player at Madison Central.
At an early age, it was apparent that the Flora native was more than an average athlete. In middle school, he was such an asset that played quarterback, receiver, safety and on special teams. He quickly caught the attention of the Madison Central coaching staff as a freshman at Rosa Scott and five games into his sophomore season with the Jags had secured the starting quarterback slot. Now a senior in high school, Holiday is arguably the best player in the state and the driving force behind the undefeated Madison Central Jaguars.
“From an offensive standpoint, he is our main guy,” says Madison Central head coach Anthony Hart. “He has some good guys around him, but he is our main guy.”
“He gives (the team) calmness,” Madison Central offensive coordinator Dusty Finley said. “They trust him even in adversity.”
Holiday’s on-field presence cannot be ignored. With the Dandy Dozen player behind center, Madison Central holds the top ranking in The Clarion Ledger Super 10. They have convincing wins over other Top 10 ranked teams Pearl and Brandon. Pearl head coach John Perry referred to him as the “best player in the state” to The Clarion Ledger after their matchup. His performance in that game earned him USA Today’s Week 4 Football Top Star.
The stats are impressive. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound dual-threat has thrown for 529 yards and six touchdowns in five games. On the ground, he also has 661 yards and 10 touchdowns. A nightmare for defenders with his lighting quick take-off and speed, he earned the moniker “The Jet.” It is a nickname that his play makes difficult to disput.
“It (the nickname) fits him. With the ball in his hands he can score from anywhere on the field. He is just explosive enough that he can do that. If you don’t have some guys with speed, he is going to make big plays,” Finley says. “That’s what a jet does when it takes off. It’s just explosive.”
Holiday’s talent is a mixture of natural ability and hard work. During the off-season, he participates in a grueling weight and conditioning session with the Jags, he then heads over to D1 training for a session with former Madison Central and Ole Miss standout and NFL alum Mike Espy. There he goes through another sets of position workouts designed specifically for him. That work ethic is something his coaches say makes a difference not only in his play but also in his leadership of the team.
“A lot of time when you have a great player, they may lean toward thinking they need special privileges and not doing what everyone else does,” Hart said. “(Jimmy) does everything everyone else does.”
“If we’re running sprints, he is usually first. If we’re practicing, he is always out there practicing. He is not trying to look for a way to get out of things,” Finley said. “If we are lifting, he is lifting and they see him lifting heavy weights. He doesn’t have to say it. He just does it.”
Holiday adds that the feedback he receives from his coaches has been integral.
“I think having the ability to be coached and wanting to learn the things to be better and just perfecting my craft is big,” Holiday said.
The sentiment relates how humble and grounded Holiday is. He is often found after practice playing catch with Coach Finley’s eight year old son, Stone. After games, Finley’s daughter, Ellis finds him for their weekly conversation. Holiday is also very careful not to take the credit for his team’s success.
“(The coaches) put me in situations to make big plays for the team,” Holiday said. “I wouldn’t be able to do those things without them giving me the ball. The offensive line, running backs and receivers, nothing can go without them.”
The TCU commitment is a full qualifier who will graduate in December and enroll in college. His coaches are confident that he will thrive in Division I football.
“Jimmy has always been dedicated to football. A lot of people play the game, but don’t dedicate themselves to it,” Hart said. “Jimmy is not that way. He has always been dedicated. That along with great ability has set him apart. When you take someone who has the ability plus they are willing to do the things necessary to be a great player, it’s a great combination.”