One of the area’s top rushing offenses will clash against one of the top passing offenses in this Friday’s matchup between Jackson Preparatory School and Madison-Ridgeland Academy.
The schools will face off in what could be a preview of the MAIS Class 6A championship.
Last year, Prep lost to the Patriots 42-21 in the regular season, only to win the championship in a 33-27 rematch.
“It’s turned into a very good rivalry between the two schools and football teams,” said Prep head coach Ricky Black. “
The winner will likely be on the inside track for top seeding in the playoffs. Last year, MRA defeated Prep and went on to claim the first seed, a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout. Prep earned the second seed and a first-round bye.
Prep (7-1, 2-0) comes into the game with a strong rushing offense and stifling defense. So far this year, the Prep Patriots have outscored opponents 278 to 95.
The MRA Patriots’ (7-2, 2-0) quick-strike offense has put up 371 points, while allowing 114.
MRA is led by senior quarterback Philip Short, who has completed 105 passes for 1,855 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Both teams have thrived defensively, with Prep allowing just under 11 points a game, and has held three opponents to zero. MRA has allowed just 13 points and held five of its first eight opponents to seven points or fewer.
Black said stopping MRA’s passing game is nearly impossible. “I don’t think anyone really stops the pass. They may slow it down,” he said. “Hopefully, we can keep the ball long enough to score points.”
Ball control will be vital for both teams. MRA head coach Herbert Davis said his offense can score quickly, but needs to do better on longer, more sustained drives to give the defense a rest.
Madison-Ridgeland also needs to capitalize on scoring opportunities, rather than leaving points on the field.
“Against Philadelphia, we got in the red zone five times and got no points out of it,” he said. “To lose by seven was a tough (one).”
Against Briarcrest Christian School, MRA fell 42-20, after being down 20-0.
MRA’s defense fell apart late in the game, with the Saints putting up 22 points in the fourth quarter, a sign the defense was worn out against the non-district foe.
“We’ve shown signs of playing well against good teams and signs of inconsistency – execution, blowing assignments – that’s what we have to get better at,” Davis said.
Prep’s offense is powered by running back Matt Jones. Through seven games, the junior rushed for 885 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The Prep offense has relied on three quarterbacks, senior Jake Lange, senior Bennett Johnston and junior Riley Maddox.
Lange has 329 passing yards and one touchdown, with seven interceptions. Johnston has 130 passing yards and one touchdown, and Maddox had 269 yards and three touchdowns.
“Each of those guys gives us something that can generate some offense,” Black said. “Jake knows the offense better than anybody else. Riley improvises better with his running game and Bennett is a little more physical (with his running and passing game).”
Madison-Ridgeland Academy will travel to Jackson Prep on Friday, October 18. The game begins at 7 p.m.
MRA’S KEYS To Victory
-Rest for the fourth: In its two losses, MRA was outscored 36-13 in the fourth quarter. In both cases, those scores determined the outcomes. Longer, sustained drives on offense could give the Patriot defense a much-needed respite before the final 12 minutes of play.
-Capitalize in the red zone: MRA got in the red zone five times against Philadelphia but failed to score. They can’t afford to leave points on the field against Prep.
PREP’S Keys To Victory
-Stop the pass: MRA averages 250 yards passing per game, but only 111 yards rushing. Protect against the pass and it could stymie MRA’s up-tempo offense.
-Control the ball: Longer, time-consuming drives will keep the MRA offense on the sidelines and give your defense a chance to rest.
Rivalry at a glance
-Prep 18-2 against MRA since 2009
-Prep defeated MRA to win four of last five MAIS state championships
-MRA’s last win again Prep: 2018 season
-MRA’s last playoff win against Prep: 2019