HINDS COUNTY: Jan Sojourner is in her 40th season as a head girls basketball coach and is winning again.
Sojourner, in her 35th season at Jackson Academy, has a 16-5 record this season, including a 10-2 mark against MAIS competition. The Copiah Academy and Mississippi College alumnus has a 946-356 overall record after Tuesday night’s 73-34 victory over Mississippi School for the Deaf. Sojourner is 844-320 at JA and had a 102-36 record at Canton Academy in her first five years as a head coach.
Sojourner is the third winningest high school girls basketball coach in Mississippi history, trailing only former Leake Academy coach Doyle Wolverton (1,245) and current Pillow Academy coach Durwin Carpenter (1,058).
Sojourner has won six MAIS Overall girls championships, more than any girls coach in history. Wolverton is second with five and Carpenter third with three. The last Overall title for Sojourner was the 2017 season when Dandy Dozen and All-State pick Conley Chinn led the Lady Raiders to a 40-2 record and a second straight Overall championship. It was one of the best teams Sojourner has ever had.
This year’s JA team could make a run at giving Sojourner her seventh Overall title. The Lady Raiders’ only two MAIS losses are to Leake and Pillow. JA, the four-time defending state champion, is led in scoring by 5-foot-6 junior guard Emma Roberts, who is averaging 10 points per game. The other starters are senior guards Azaria McDowell (pictured in photo with Sojourner) and Reeves Stratton, senior forward Kennedy Nations and junior guard Emily Thompson.
This team is also special because Sojourner is coaching with a heavy heart after the loss of one of her closest friends, former long time assistant coach Sharon Clark, who passed away Nov. 18. Clark not only coached with Sojourner for 16 seasons, but her three daughters, Stacie, Stephanie and Sarah, played for Sojourner at JA. The team will wear a black patch with SC on their jerseys for Clark’s initials for the rest of the season.
MADISON COUNTY: Ridgeland High football coach David White got a chance to coach in an all-star high school football game this past weekend when he was the offensive coordinator for the West team in the 20th annual All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
The All-American Bowl puts together the top 100 players from around the country. White helped the West to a 33-20 victory. White’s quarterback, Alabama commitment Bryce Young from Southern California, was the game’s MVP.
There was one Mississippian in the game, George County defensive lineman McKinnley Jackson. Jackson remains verbally uncommitted. He has taken official visits to Alabama and Auburn and has official visits scheduled this month for Ole Miss, LSU and Texas A&M, according to Rivals.com.
It was the second time that White had coached in the game. He did in 2005 when he was coaching at Bishop Garman High in Las Vegas.
White did one of the best coaching jobs in Mississippi this season. In his first year at Ridgeland after coming from the University of Nevada, White led the Titans to a 9-4 record, a four-win improvement over last season and the first winning season since 2013. White returns one of the top rising seniors in Mississippi next year in quarterback Zy McDonald, who passed for 3,252 yards and 25 touchdowns and ran for 610 yards and 14 TDs this past season. He was selected as the all-purpose player on the second team of the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard All-Metro Football Team.
RANKIN COUNTY: Florence girls soccer coach Bill Hood believes playing tough competition gets his Lady Eagles ready for the playoffs and a potential state championship.
His formula has worked pretty well in his fifth season at Florence. The Lady Eagles won the Class 4A state title two years ago and finished second to West Lauderdale a year ago. Florence defeated West Lauderdale for the state title in 2018. Hood has guided his team to a 9-3-4 record this season and is 50-9-12 over the past three seasons. Florence opened the season with a 3-0 loss to West Lauderdale, but that’s their only loss or tie to a non-6A team. They lost to Brandon 1-0 and Tupelo 2-1 and tied Northwest Rankin 0-0, Gulfport 1-1, Oxford 3-3 and Clinton 3-3.
Hood isn’t a stranger to winning state championships. He won two MAIS state titles and two runner up finishes playing soccer for Washington School in the late 1990s.
Florence has won other two girls soccer state titles, both by the late Gray Massey in 2012 and 2013. Massey, who played with Hood at Mississippi College, passed away suddenly last January. He coached Florence from 2006-2013.
Florence is led by four seniors, forward Taylor Ford, midfielders Jordan Patrick and Allyson Goza and center back Katlin Hubbard. Ford scored the winning goal as a sophomore for the state title. Sophomore forward Shaelynn Quick leads the team with 13 goals, including three in a 3-3 tie with Clinton Tuesday night. Quick’s father, Derrick, was a star running back for McLaurin High in the late 1990s.