Photos by Chris Todd, Jared Thomas and Robert Smith
Story by Robert Wilson
Make it back to back championships for the Madison-Ridgeland Academy Patriots.
Senior running back Rayf Vinson ran for 197 yards and scored three touchdowns, senior quarterback Zach Beasley passed for 200 yards and two scores and ran for a TD and MRA’s defense slowed down Jackson Academy’s offense for a 41-14 victory Saturday afternoon for its second consecutive MAIS Class 6A state football championship at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson.
MRA finished the season with a 12-0 record, won its 19th straight game and won its 31st game of the last 32 against MAIS teams. JA finished 10-4, breaking a six game winning streak. It was the first state championship appearance for JA since 2013. The Raiders were denied their first state title since their three-peat from 2009-11. JA ended a 12-game losing streak to Jackson Prep with a 28-21 win last week in the semifinals.
MRA coach Herbert Davis won his fifth state title, two each at MRA and Brookhaven Academy and one at Pillow. Davis, in his 24th season, also won his 209th game of his career. JA coach Lance Pogue, in his first season as head coach at JA after three years as defensive coordinator, was denied his sixth state title. Pogue won five state titles and one national title in 10 years at South Panola. Pogue was coaching in his eighth state championship game (six at South Panola and one each at JA and Eupora).
After JA jumped out to a 7-0 lead on Jackson Conn’s 17-yard TD pass to Marcus Harris in the first quarter, MRA scored 34 straight points in the second and third quarters to put the game away.
MRA’s defense, led by senior defensive end June Aldridge’s 11 tackles, limited JA to only 217 yards, 109 rushing and 108 passing. Harris, who came in with 1,447 yards and scored 23 TDs this season, finished with 90 yards on 19 carries and also caught a TD pass. He had 205 yards in the win over Prep last week. The Patriots also limited JA sophomore receiver Dan Smith to only two catches for 23 yards and no TDs. Smith caught 11 passes for 131 yards and two TDs in last week’s win over Prep and was named the Junction Deli/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Football Player of the Week. JA played without Under Armour All-American senior wide receiver Deion Smith, Dan’s brother, who had foot surgery last week.
Vinson, who has verbally committed to Navy, scored on runs of 1, 15 and 22 yards and had six tackles and broke up two tackles on defense. Beasley completed TD passes of 41 yards to Ty Brooks and 7 yards to Tylon Latham and ran for a 13-yard TD. Senior linebacker Donavon Veasley had a game-high 15 tackles for JA.