There have been plenty of big moments for the Carroll Academy football team during its run to the MAIS Class 3A state championship game.
However, one stands out to head coach Bo Milton.
“When Braxton York ran down the Indianola Academy player and tackled him at the one-yard line, that has to be the play of the year for us,” said the sixth-year CA coach. “Our defense stopped them from scoring on that series, and we went on to win that game.
“That's the kind of kid Braxton is. It's an old cliche, but it's true about him. He works hard each day, and he does what's necessary to help this team win. He's a yes sir, no sir kind of kid. Very respectful of others. He's what you want as a player.”
York, a 5-foot-11, 150-pound senior, has played a big role in the Rebels' 12-0 campaign, which ends Friday when they take on Greenville Christian School at 7 p.m. at Jackson Academy for the rights to be called the best team in the 3A ranks for the 2020 season.
During the season, York has lined up at five different positions for Carroll. His primary role is as a running back and free safety on offense and defense, but he has also taken snaps at quarterback. On special teams, he returns punts and kicks for the Rebels.
York has been a part of the Carroll Academy team for two seasons. As a junior, he was rolling right along when he suffered a broken collarbone against Indianola Academy in the fifth game. He returned just in time to play against Greenville St. Joe in the 3A semifinal game, which Carroll lost 20-18.
“I sat out about six to seven weeks, and I was cleared to play against St. Joe,” said York, who had four interceptions as a junior. “Both sides felt like they had been in a car wreck after that game. My body was sore all over. We didn't know when we'd face them again, but we definitely wanted to play them again this season.”
The Rebels got that opportunity last week in the semifinals of the playoffs. Carroll beat the Irish 15-6, earning the right to play Greenville Christian.
“We made it to the third round last year, but we wanted to be better and go one step farther this season,” said York. “St. Joe has a very good team, but different from last year. They had Dillon Johnson (now at MSU) last season. We just knew we had to keep hitting them.
“Their quarterback (Mekhi Norris) was returning from a shoulder injury, and our defense did a good job of getting after him. We had it in our minds to hit them and get back in the huddle and do it again.”
As a running back, York has rushed for 290 yards on 24 carries and scored three touchdowns. He also has 16 receptions for 202 yards and two scores. As a return specialist, he has one kickoff return and two punt returns for touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball, York has 42 total tackles with 10 interceptions.
York and the other members of the defense, especially the secondary, will be tested Friday. GCS is going to throw the ball often with former Greenwood High standout DeAndre Smith pulling the trigger.
“I've watched film on them, and I know they have a very good team,” York said. “They are fast, and they have one of the best quarterbacks in the state. I think the key is going to be our defensive line. If they can get after them up front, it will make our job a lot easier.”
York, who also plays baseball for Carroll, believes this group of seniors, seven in all, is going to leave its mark on future teams.
“This team has a lot of talent on it, and the seniors want to finish this thing,” he said. “The sophomores have played a big role this season. They stepped up from their freshman season and have played really well.
“Everybody in town is proud of what we have accomplished so far. It means a lot to have all that support. We've got one more game to achieve our goal.”
• Contact Calvin Stevens at 581-7234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.