Nick Brewer has been coaching the Jackson Prep defense for the past 21 years as either a defensive line coach or defensive coordinator, and has seen plenty of impressive performances by the Patriots.
Friday night’s surprising 28-0 victory over public school powerhouse Taylorsville might go down as one of the best he’s ever seen.
Taylorsville was averaging 34 points per game and was rated as the top Class 2A team in Mississippi and No. 8 overall in Mississippi by MaxPrep. TheTartars’ closest game was a 32-12 victory over defending 2A state champion Scott Central, the team that beat Taylorsville for the state title last year. That state title game, played without starting quarterback Ty Keyes, is the only game Taylorsville has lost for the past two years until Friday night. In fact, it was the first time Taylorsville had been shut out since 2004, a span of 190 games.
“There was no way we could simulate their speed in practice because we didn’t have anyone as fast as their receivers,” said Brewer, who was a head coach at Hillcrest for two years and Winston Academy for one year before coming to Prep. Brewer led Winston to a state championship. He took over defensive coordinator duties five years ago at Prep when Will Crosby went full time as athletic director.
“We had to get used to their speed early in the game and they got behind us some, but fortunately weren’t able to get any big plays. We dodged some bullets early. We wanted to pressure the quarterback and keep the receivers in front of us. Our kids played hard every play. Taylorsville was a talented bunch and we knew we had to have a great game plan to beat them. Our kids kept fighting and working hard all night.”
Taylorsville got inside the 20 twice, but turned the ball over on fourth down both times. Keyes, considered one of the best quarterbacks in Mississippi, completed 17 of 33 passes for 169 yards and one interception and was sacked twice and pressured all night by the Patriots. Taylorsville had only 44 yards rushing. Senior defensive ends J.C. Polk and Reed Kellum, senior defensive tackle Holmes Maley and junior linebacker Braedon Mabry led the Prep defense.
Prep’s offense was effective as well. Junior running back Matt Jones had a career game, 218 rushing yards and 20 carries and two touchdowns and two receptions for 37 yards and one TD, and ran behind an outstanding offensive line, who controlled the bigger Taylorsville defensive front. Also, backup quarterback Riley Maddox entered the game in the first half and made several good runs and passes and directed the offense for the rest of the game.
Prep head coach Ricky Black won his 388th career game, the second most in Mississippi history, behind Centreville Academy’s Bill Hurst, who won his 403rd game Friday night. Black won his 250th game at Prep Friday night. He has been at Prep since 1997. Black, like Brewer, was impressed the play of his team.
“We knew Taylorsville could score quickly and often,” Black said. “Our secondary did a great job and Coach Brewer mixed up our coverages from man to zone and we put pressure on their quarterback. Taylorsville is talented and are going to win a lot of games this year.”
Prep has made a habit of beating talented public schools teams. The Patriots, who have played more public school teams than any member of the Mid-South Association of Independent Schools, have a 17-9 record since their first game against a Mississippi High School Activities Association team in 2001. George County defeated Prep 27-14 at Prep that year. Prep has played Forest (a 7-1 record), New Hope (2-0), St. Stanislaus (2-0), Pearl (3-3), Bassfield (1-1), Newton (1-1), Taylorsville (1-0), George County (0-1)and Oxford (0-2). St. Stanislaus, Forest and Bassfield won state championships in years they played Prep and Oxford was a runner-up.
Prep has won a Mississippi record seven straight state championships and has lost only four MSAIS games during that span, one of those to this week’s opponent, rival Jackson Academy, in 2013. Prep has won the last nine meetings against JA, and dominated the Raiders in the last seven games, winning by an average of 28.7 points. Prep is always looking to upgrade its non-conference schedule. Prep will play at Taylorsville next season to complete its home and home agreement, its only game against a MHSAA team this year and next year. Black would like to continue to play MHSAA teams in the future.
“We were looking for a non-conference game to play and I saw where Taylorsville needed a game also,” Black said. “So I called their coach and we agreed to play a home and home series. We will be looking to play someone else in the future after we finish this series. We are always looking for good competition before we play our regular conference schedule.”
Whatever public school team Prep plays in the future better be ready to play against a tough defense and a great coaching staff. Just ask Taylorsville.