By Gene Phelps
HOLLY SPRINGS – Marshall Academy coach Bart Jenkins believes his football team has yet to play its “very best” this season.
They get one last shot Saturday. That’s when the Patriots (12-1) play Natchez Trinity (12-0) in the MAIS Class A state championship game at Mississippi College in Clinton.
The kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Robinson-Hale Stadium.
“It would be mind-boggling to a lot of people,” Jenkins said. “We’re a long way from reaching our potential offensively. Defensively, we’ve been very inconsistent.”
Marshall Academy lost last season to Brookhaven Academy in the Class AA state finals at Millsaps.
“The kids have been focused on getting back to the championship game. They’re very motivated,” Jenkins said.
The Patriots are led on offense by the one-two punch of quarterback Dakota Dailey and running back Devin McGregor.
Dailey, a three-sport standout, has rushed for 1,400 yards, passed for 2,500 and accounted for 56 touchdowns. “He makes the whole engine tick,” Jenkins said. “From a leadership and organizational standpoint he makes us go.”
Dailey will play
Jenkins says his quarterback, who suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter of last week’s 35-28 playoff win against Benton Academy, will play in the championship.
“I fully expect him to be his very best,” the coach said.
McGregor, who rushed for 1,622 yards last season, hasn’t broken the 1,000-yard mark this year, but there’s a reason. He’s also one of the team’s top defenders from his linebacker spot.
“He’s been banged up all year,” Jenkins noted. “He’s still averaging 6 yards per carry.”
Marshall Academy also has a big-play threat in receiver/kick returner Jordan Harris and a talented kicker/receiver in Christian Compton.
Natchez Trinity is a mirror image of the Patriots in a number of ways, including speed.
“They’re very talented at quarterback with Michael Whitley,” Jenkins said. “They’re super aggressive on defense. They pressure you with a lot of guys.”