PCA’s Ray, St. Al’s Brown suit up for All-Star Game

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, November 30, 2017

When the season began, neither Brayden Ray nor Ketrez Brown were on most people’s radars as two of the best football players in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools.

Ray was on a team that won one game in 2016. Brown wasn’t even on an MAIS team last year.
When the MAIS puts a bow on its 2017 season Friday afternoon, however, both players will be standing amongst the best of the best.

Ray, a wide receiver for Porter’s Chapel Academy, and St. Aloysius running back/linebacker Brown will both suit up for the White team in the MAIS All-Star Game Friday at 3 p.m. at Jackson Prep.

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“It feels good. For this being my first and last year here I enjoyed it,” Brown said. “Even though our season didn’t go along as planned, I enjoyed it. I just want to thank God for letting me be one of the all-stars and the supporters who came out to support us.”

Brayden Ray

In addition to Ray and Brown, Porter’s Chapel head coach Blake Purvis will serve as an assistant on the White staff and several other players from around the Vicksburg area will play as well.

Briarfield Academy quarterback Holt Martin will also play for the White team while his teammate, lineman Daniel Sullivan, will play for the Blue. They helped Briarfield Academy win the 8-Man championship for the first time.

Central Hinds’ Cody White and Jett Bland will also play for the Blue.

Instead of a North-South format, MAIS all-star rosters are set via a draft once the initial pool of players is selected. That is why high school teammates such as Martin and Sullivan can be on different all-star teams.

Ray is Porter’s Chapel’s first all-star selection since 2012. Prior to that, the school had had at least one all star in eight consecutive seasons. Part of the reason for the drought was a slump in the program’s fortunes, as it only won four games total from 2013-16.

Ray was part of the group that changed that, though. He played several different positions on offense and defense and helped the Eagles to a 5-6 record this season. On offense, he rushed for 359 yards and six touchdowns mostly as a short-yardage back, and caught 11 passes for 165 yards. On defense, he had 31 tackles and two sacks.

Purvis said Ray’s versatility played a role in his selection as an all-star.

“It’s his ability to do different things. He played fullback, tight end, wide receiver, defensive line and linebacker for us,” Purvis said. “In the selection committee’s eyes, somebody that’s versatile helps their chances to fit in anywhere the need is on an all-star team. That’s especially important in a game like this, where they’re trying to get everyone onto the field.”

Brown, meanwhile, transferred from Raymond High School to St. Al during the summer and immediately became a key player on both sides of the ball. The senior totaled 548 rushing yards and three touchdowns, and averaged 8.1 yards per carry.

Brown was also the Flashes’ leading tackler, with 85. He added two sacks, a fumble recovery and one interception — which he returned for a touchdown in a district win over Porter’s Chapel — to his resumé.

“For me, becoming an all-star took hard work and dedication. For people not knowing me, I wanted to be noticeable. So I just motivated and pushed myself to the limit to be noticeable,” Brown said.

Before coming to St. Al, Brown had been a two-year starter starter at defensive back for Raymond, and had 121 total tackles in 2016. Although he was having a solid football career at Raymond, Brown said he was thankful for the opportunity St. Al had given him.

“It was a different adjustment. In public schools, for football the rules and requirements are totally different than here, and the academic program is different. You have to be on top of it. Over there you can kind of lag,” Brown said. “I want to thank God for sending me here, because he gave me an opportunity that was better than Raymond. Here, I feel like a home. Raymond felt like a home, but it didn’t feel like a place I needed to be so God sent me here.”

• Friday, 3 p.m.
• At Jackson Prep
• Online: The game will be streamed live online at fnutllive.com/home

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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