Madison-Ridgeland Academy coach Herbert Davis’ offensive game plan to defeat Jackson Prep and end the Patriots’ Mississippi record seven consecutive state championships was to throw the ball downfield. But even Davis, who doubles as MRA’s offensive coordinator, didn’t anticipate what happened.
MRA senior quarterback Philip Short passed for a Mississippi state record 593 yards to lead his team to a 49-33 victory and the Mid-South Association of Independent Schools Class 6A state championship Saturday night at Mississippi College in Clinton.
Short completed 28 of 40 passes and five touchdowns and also ran for a score. Four MRA receivers caught passes for at least 116 yards. Tyler Starnes caught five passes for 184 yards and two TDs, Russ Sceroler four for 121 yards and one TD, Joe Perkins seven for 118 and two TDs and Justin Williams eight for 116.
Short averaged 21.2 yards per completion, had 11 completions of at least 30 yards and had TD passes of 72, 54, 41, 31 and 30 yards.
“Philip is the best long ball thrower I have ever coached and probably have ever seen,” said Davis, who won his fourth state championship, first at MRA, and has been head coach for 23 years, the last six at MRA. “Our plan was to go vertical. That’s who we are. We like to go deep and the matchups we had we felt we could do that. Philip played a great game and our receivers did a great job of running routes and catching balls. We got off to a slow start (Prep led 19-7 after the first quarter), we had some mistakes and lack of execution, but we started playing better in the second quarter and the second half.”
Short completed 16 of 27 passes for 343 yards in the first half and had 531 yards at the end of the third quarter. Short broke St. Stanislaus’ Dylan Favre’s Mississippi record of 562 yards set in 2009.
And Short did this against a well-respected head coach, Ricky Black, and defensive coordinator, Nick Brewer. Black is the second winningest coach in Mississippi history and has won 13 state championships. Brewer is known as one of the best defensive coaches in Mississippi and has shut down dozens of high-powered offenses during his 21 years at Prep, 16 as a defensive line coach and five as a coordinator. He has frustrated many an offense and quarterback. An example of that was earlier this season when Black and Brewer blanked Class 2A power Taylorsville and talented quarterback Ty Keyes 28-0.
Only one team – Jackson Academy’s 49 in the 2009 championship game – has scored more than points vs. Prep in the past 16 years. Only four teams have scored at least 40 during that time period and MRA has done it twice, both with Short at quarterback. Short led MRA to a 42-21 victory over Prep during the 2018 regular season to snap a 14-game losing streak to Prep. Four of those losses were in state championship games, including last year when Prep won 33-27. Short passed for 1,599 yards and 15 TDs in four games vs. Prep.
“Those guys over there at Prep are great coaches,” Davis said. “I’m very happy for our coaches and players to win this one.”
Short passed for 3,545 yards and 37 TDs with only five interceptions. He passed for 6,568 yards and 71 TDs in his two years at MRA after transferring from Northwest Rankin.Short has led MRA to a 24-3 record over the past two seasons with the only losses to Prep in last year’s championship game and to Class 2A powerhouse Philadelphia and Tennessee private school state championship contender Briarcrest this season.
“I dreamed of this time. The coaches and my teammates put in a lot of work,” Short said. “And I was determined that if we got back to this stage again, I would not let my team down. It was a great game by my O-line and receivers. They did a great job of getting open and made my job a lot easier.”
Despite throwing downfield the majority of the game, Short was sacked only twice. MRA’s offensive line of left tackle Harper Blake, left guard George Drake, center NicoDavenport, right guard J.P. Wilke and right tackle Rush Bland kept Prep out of the backfield and gave Short plenty of time to find his receivers.
Short has verbally committed to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. Jackson Prep alumnus Chance Lovertich is the starting quarterback there now and is graduating. But now Short is getting more attention, especially after his record-setting performance. He received his first Division I offer Monday when Jacksonville State called, Davis said. More will likely come in the next few days or weeks. Other Division I schools are now showing interest, Davis said.