This championship run Carroll Academy is on started with last year’s 20-18 loss to Greenville St. Joe in the Class 3A semifinals.
“A lot of these 10th graders were on the field as freshmen, so they went through the loss to Greenville St. Joe,” said Carroll head coach Bo Milton, who will lead the Rebels against Greenville Christian School Friday at 7 p.m. in the MAIS Class 3A state title game at Jackson Academy.
“We have battled through COVID, and when we got the clearance we could return to the field, we were the first team back practicing in May,” added Milton. “The kids didn’t miss practice from the very start. They were excited to be back. They have paid attention to detail this season. It’s been very business like. We celebrated for a brief time after beating St. Joe last week, but then we turned our attention to this week. They knew we had one more game to go to complete our goal.”
The Rebels, the No. 1 seed, come into Friday’s contest with a 12-0 record, which includes a forfeit win over Tri-County back on Sept. 11. Greenville Christian, the No. 2 overall seed, is 10-1 overall and riding a 10-game win streak after losing its opener to Tri-County.
Carroll advanced to the championship game with a 15-6 win over St. Joe last Friday in a semifinal contest. The Saints knocked off Winona Christian 50-7 to earn its spot opposite of the Rebels.
“Being No. 1 brings out the best in other teams,” Milton said. “We’ve gotten the best from each team we’ve faced this season. Glenbrook gave us a good game, and it was a war against St. Joe last week. Some nights have not been pretty. Playing teams like Winona and Indianola in our district definitely helped get us ready for the playoffs.”
Just like any team at this point of the season, Carroll has its share of bumps and bruises. Sophomore quarterback Brennan Blaylock has a thigh bruise, but Milton said that won’t keep him off the field.
“We’re banged up and got our bumps, but each player will be ready to go,” said the sixth-year head coach. “Nobody is 100% healthy right now but these guys realize we have to suck it up for 48 more minutes. I can guarantee you that each one of our players is going to give their full effort.”
The Rebels used a game-controlled plan and a stingy defense against St. Joe last week to avenge the 2019 defeat.
“Offensively, we didn’t worry about the clock but just played our game,” Milton said. “The kids are creatures of habit. We did what we do on offense, and we played defense like crazy men.
“Greenville Christian is a super talented team, and they may think they have more athletes than we do. I know a lot of people aren’t too happy about them having all the transfer kids, and I’m one of them. But you know what, we are going to play whoever lines up across from us.”
Carroll has a bevy of running backs to choose from but senior Hunter “Hollywood” Brackin has stepped up the last three weeks. He had 97 yards on 15 carries a week ago and picked up 117 yards and scored three times on 17 totes against Glenbrook in the second round. In the regular season finale against Central Holmes, Brackin finished with 170 yards and four TDs on 13 carries.
On the season, he has 803 yards and 11 TDs on 110 carries.
Sophomore Mathis Beck is second on the team with 639 yards and eight scores on 64 carries. Blaylock has 481 yards and nine TDs on 64 carries.
In the passing department, Blaylock has thrown for 770 yards on 48 of 80 attempts with nine TDs and six interceptions. Sophomore Noah Beck is the leading receiver with 25 grabs for 483 yards and seven TDs.
The Carroll defense has 26 interceptions, 24 fumble recoveries, 25 sacks and seven touchdowns this season. Noah Beck and senior Braxton York have 11 and 10 picks, respectively.
Senior Cooper Beck leads the way with 78 total tackles. Mathis Beck and Hunter Brower have 72 stops apiece. Junior linebacker William Panni leads the team with six sacks. He also has 60 tackles.
Maddox Carpenter has 60 tackles, and Noah Beck and Brackin have 54 each.
• Contact Calvin Stevens at 581-7234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.