ACCS falls to Leake Academy in MAIS Class 5A state championship
By Brandon Shields
Special to the Democrat
JACKSON — They say defense wins championships.
Leake Academy did exactly that as the Rebels would shut out Adams County Christian School 10-0 to claim the MAIS Class 5A State Championship at The Brickyard at Jackson Academy on Friday night to cap off an undefeated season.
It is the Rebels’ (13-0) first football state championship in school history.
“Those kids stepped up and they played lights out. I can’t say enough how proud I am of them,” said Leake Academy coach Brian Pickens. “That was super. Backs were against the wall all night and we had to make a play.”
Even though ACCS came up just short in its effort to win its second state championship in three seasons, the No. 3 seed and ‘visiting’ Rebels from Natchez held No. 1 seed Leake Academy to only eight first downs.
There wasn’t much offense from Leake Academy only having 86 yards of total offense, all rushing. Sophomore quarterback Rhett Atkinson was 0-for-4 passing with one interception.
The Rebels took the opening drive down to the ACCS 8-yard line and ended up having to settle for a Cole Arthur 25-yard field goal with 6:10 left in the first quarter to take a 3-0 lead.
In the third quarter Adams Christian would get an interception by Claven Dunbar, but a penalty and a sack would force the Rebels to punt.
On the ensuing drive ACCS drove down to the Leake Academy 23-yard line and on fourth down Blake LaPrairie would be stopped just inches from the first down mark and the Rebels turned the ball over on downs.
On ACCS’ next possession Leake Academy safety Thomas Cheatham would come up with an interception and return 46 yards for a touchdown to put the Rebels up 10-0 with 8:54 left in the fourth quarter.
“I watched the coach signal the route out and saw the route and went and got the ball,” Cheatham said. “That is every kids’ dream. I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.”
ACCS turned the ball over on downs once again at midfield on their next possession and Leake Academy ran the clock out after that.
“Thomas made a huge and we felt something good was going to happen and it happened,” Pickens said. “First state championship, so it means a lot for community and proud of what these kids accomplished. They deserve it.”
Corey Sewell had 95 yards rushing to lead Adams Christian (10-3). The Rebels had 162 yards of total offense.
“I thought our kids left it all out on the field. We were so limited all year long offensively,” said ACCS coach David King. “We gave them everything we had and couldn’t get a first down when we needed. When you play a defense like that you had to make a play and we didn’t.”