Jackson Prep’s seven-year streak of Mid-South Independent Association of Schools state football championships was broken by Madison-Ridgeland Academy this past fall. But that isn’t the longest streak on the Prep campus. That feat belongs Coach Jon Marcus Duncan and the boys soccer team. Prep has won an amazing nine straight MAIS state championships. The Patriots appear to be headed toward a 10th consecutive title, especially after defeating Jackson Academy 2-1 Tuesday night at JA. Senior midfielder Sam Drennan and sophomore midfielder Lewis Knotts scored one goal each and sophomore goalkeeper Walker Headley made several saves to hold off the Raiders. Prep has defeated JA in each of the past three years in the championship game.
Prep improved to 9-5-2 this season, including an 8-0 mark vs. MAIS competition. In fact, Prep hasn’t lost a game to an MAIS team since it lost to JA in the 2016-2017 season, a streak of 54 consecutive wins.
Duncan, who is helped by second-year assistant TJay Busin, has already won one championship this school year. Duncan, a Jackson Prep and University of Mobile graduate,guided the girls soccer team to a state title over JA this fall, their first state championship since 2015. It was Duncan’s 12th state girls title to go along with his 13 boys titles. Prep had lost to JA eight straight times, including two this season, before the Lady Patriots won 2-1 in the championship game.
This year’s group is led by senior defender J.C. Polk, a second-team selection on the defensive line on the Mississippi Scoreboard/Priority One Bank All-Metro Football Team. Drennan, senior midfielder Preston Oden and junior forward Dylan Harrigill are also key players for the Patriots. Harrigill has scored a team-high 10 goals.
Velma Jackson boys basketballcoach Chris Love knows what it takes to win a state championship. He won one at a player at Canton High in 1997 playing for his dad Lewis Love and last year he won one as a coach at Velma Jackson. So when he says he feels he has a team who could possibly repeat, people should listen.
Chris Love returns his top six players from last year’s team, which finished 25-6, won its last 19 straight gamesand won the Class 3A state title. It was the first state title for Love and the fifth state title in the past seven years at Velma Jackson, the first one without a player named Weatherspoonin the lineup.
Josh Lee, a 6-foot-2 junior guard, leads Velma Jackson with 23.5 points and 3 assists per game. Other starters include 6-3 senior forward Charlie Jones (17.2 points, 7 rebounds), 6-foot senior guard Mason Riley (8 points, 5 assists), 6-2 junior guard R.D. Wilson (6 points) and 6-foot senior guard Leaveon Griffin (4 points). Jordan Harvey, a 6-4 sophomore forward, is one of the most talented sixth men in the state, averaging 13 points, a team-high 9.5 rebounds. Harvey was named a second-team wide receiver on the Mississippi Scoreboard/Priority One Bank All-Metro Football Team.
The Falcons are 17-5 this season, with none of their losses with the team at full strength. Lee just recently came back after missing a month with a foot injury.
Love, a Canton High, Holmes Community College and Jackson State graduate, has learned a lot from his dad, who won 607 games in his career at Amanda Elzy, Velma Jackson, Canton and Pearl before retiring in 2003. Love has won 60 games in his two and half seasons at Canton. His dad still comes around to some Canton games.
Clinton Christian Academy made school history when the girls basketball team qualified for the state tournament for the first time since the school opened in 2007. Now, under first-year coach Josh Zeitz, are looking to do even more. The Class 3A Lady Warriors are off to a 17-2 start with their only two losses to 5A Parklane and Jackson Prep.
Zeitz, a Mountain Brook (Ala.) High and University of Alabama-Birmingham graduate, has lived in Mississippi for the past 17 years and is the CCA athletic director, softball coach, boys and girls basketball coach and baseball coach. He has been at CCA for the past five years. He guided the softball team to back-to-back state championships for the past two seasons.
Zeitz starts one senior, point guard Rae Rae York (13 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals), and three juniors, forward Iris Farve (16 points, 8 rebounds), guard and Zeitz’sdaughter, Hannah (5 points, 5 steals, 5 assists), forward Grace Murray (8 points and 6 rebounds) and freshman forward Riley Evans (7 points).
CCA has been successful despite not having a home gym to practice or play in. They play 25 of their 30 games on the road and play their home games at either Mississippi College in Clinton or MBA Sports Complex in Northeast Jackson. They practice at either Hinds Community College in Raymond or Clinton United Methodist Church.