Photo Gallery: Sharkey-Issaquena Academy wins MAIS Class 1A football championship

Published 11:23 pm Thursday, November 16, 2023

JACKSON — Sharkey-Issaquena Academy completed a remarkable worst-to-first run Thursday by defeating Calhoun Academy 32-26 in the MAIS Class 1A football championship game at Jackson Academy.

SIA’s Gary Jackson rushed for 211 yards and three touchdowns, including a game-winning 35-yarder on the final play. The Confederates only ran 19 offensive plays the entire game, but scored five touchdowns in the second half — on plays covering 52, 97, 53, 94 and 35 yards — to overcome a 20-0 deficit.

SIA finished with a 12-1 record, one year after it went 2-8 and had to forfeit a playoff game because it did not have enough healthy players. It won its first state title since 2014.

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The team has also overcome adversity off the field. Its hometown of Rolling Fork was devastated by an EF-4 tornado on March 24 that killed 14 people in Sharkey County and damaged more than 75 percent of the buildings in town. SIA’s gym was used as a collection and distribution point for relief supplies for most of the spring and summer, and its football players often worked long shifts volunteering there.

“My hat is off to the kids, and the community for backing us and how great they are. You see this, and it’s an amazing thing, man,” head coach Matt Homan said, pointing to dozens of SIA fans who came on the field after the game to take pictures with his players. “It’s a Cinderella story, fairybook ending, you can’t write stories like that. It’s a great thing for the whole state. It’s a great thing for our area, our family, our friends, people at SIA, all the small towns, this is for them.”

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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