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By Robert Wilson
Photos by Chris Todd and Brad Bridges

​Madison-Ridgeland Academy became just the third team to win three consecutive state championships in MAIS’ highest classification in football Saturday night with a 42-7 victory over Hartfield Academy at Mississippi College in Clinton.

​And with sophomore quarterback John White and freshman running back Quincy Phillips accounting for every touchdown and junior linebacker Jeffery Polk leading the team in tackles, MRA has a legitimate shot of making it a four-peat next season.

​MRA won its 10th consecutive game to finish 10-3 this season. Only Jackson Prep and Jackson Academy have won three consecutive state titles in the highest classification. Prep has done it numerous, including a record seven straight from 2012-2018 before MRA stopped the streak and JA twice, 2003-2005 and 2009-2011. 

​MRA has been dominating in the MAIS over the past several years, winning 41 of its last 42 games against MAIS competition. Its only loss during that streak was this year’s season opener against Greenville Christian, which is ranked No. 60 in the nation by MaxPreps, and MRA played that game without several starters, including Under Armour All-American and senior linebacker Stone Blanton. MRA has won 30 of its last 33 games, the only losses to those three state champions.

Since losing to three defending state champions – from Mississippi (MAIS Class 3A and nationally ranked Greenville Christian), Tennessee (Public school Class 6A and nationally ranked Oakland) and Arkansas (Class 2A Pulanski Academy) – MRA hasn’t come close to losing. In fact, the closest final score was against Hartfield, a 45-23 decision two weeks ago in the final regular season game. And that one really wasn’t too close. MRA led 31-9 at halftime and 45-9 late in the third quarter.

It was more of the same Saturday night. MRA led 14-7 after one quarter, 28-7 at halftime and 35-7 after three quarters.

White, who transferred from Winona Christian this season,completed 17 of 26 passes for 273 yards and two TDs and ran 10 times for 42 yards and one score. He threw TD passes of 48 yards to junior Pax Hughes and 10 yards to senior Street Toler. White completed 12 of 18 passes for 203 yards in the first half. White passed for 3,935 yards and 39 TDs this season. Phillips, who moved from Greenville this past summer, had 10 carries for 94 yards and three TDs on runs of 7, 4 and 2 yards.

MRA senior wide receiver and Southern Miss commitment Davis Dalton caught nine passes for 112 yards and finished the season with a MAIS-best 89 passes for 1,586 yards and 15 TDs. Senior wide receiver Street Toler caught six passes for 105 yards.

MRA’s defense, led by Polk with 10 tackles, held Hartfield to only 99 total yards in the first half. Junior defensive back Noah Short recovered a Hartfield fumble in the end zone in the third quarter to stop a Hartfield scoring drive.

This is the third straight season MRA has won the championship game by a big margin. Two years ago, quarterback Philip Short threw for a MAIS-record 593 yards in a 49-33 victory over Prep, ending Prep’s seven-year run of state championships. Last season, running back Rayf Vinson ran for 197 yards and three TDs and quarterback Zach Beasley passed for 200 yards and ran for another score in a 41-14 victory over JA.

MRA coach Herbert Davis won his sixth state championship in his 25-year head coaching career Saturday. He won three at MRA, two at Brookhaven Academy and one at Pillow Academy. He is the only football coach in Mississippi history to take five schools (MRA, Brookhaven Academy, Pillow, Heritage and Winston) to state championship games. Davis has won 220games in his career.

“Our kids had found a way all year long and they did again tonight,” Davis said. “We knew we would have a chance if we could run it like we did last time. Our guys did a great job. We made some big plays in the red zone.”

Hartfield, in its first season in 6A, finished 9-3. The Hawks were led by senior running back Xavier Davis, who had 14 carries for 105 yards and one TD. Davis had a tremendous season. He had 148 carries for 1,349 yards – 9.1 yards per carry – and 20TDs, caught 11 passes for 110 yards and two TDs and returned nine kickoffs for 242 yards and two TDs this season. 

“I am proud of our team and the effort to get to this game,” Hartfield coach Craig Bowman said. “MRA is such a talented team and I have a lot of respect for Coach Davis and his program. We knew we had to take advantage of the opportunities to score and not make many mistakes. I am grateful for these seniors and what they have done to grow this program.”