A monarch, a monsoon, a milestone: Black collects 400th win amidst chaotic evening

The Patriots are accompanied by smoke and balloons as they run onto the field. Photo by Lily Flowers

Friday was a busy night at Jackson Prep. The Patriot football team welcomed the familiar Parklane Academy Pioneers to Flowood with more on the line than the usual conference win. The 23rd marked Coach Ricky Black’s 400th coaching victory, adding another accomplishment to the Ackerman native’s extensive list. Now in his 40th season coaching, Black only trails Centreville Academy’s Bill Hurst for the most victories in Mississippi high school football history. The 2018 National Coach of the Year recipient has built a dynasty on Lakeland Drive, winning 13 state championships in 25 seasons at Jackson Prep.

Homecoming queen Eliza Mazzaferro poses with her father. Photo by Lily Flowers

The Red and Blue took a big step towards having a shot at Black’s 14th championship Friday. The Pioneers from McComb held a gridlock with Prep until the second quarter, intercepting a Riley Maddox pass near the goal line and prematurely stunting several offensive drives. Defensively, the secondary effectively thwarted Parklane’s air attack while Braedon Mabry and the front seven held their ground against the run. The points began to flow in the second quarter with the rarest of scores: a safety. Junior Walker Poole snuck through Parklane’s offensive line to wrestle down an unsuspecting ballcarrier in Prep’s newly-turfed south endzone. Nearing the end of the first half, the passing game faltered again as Parklane intercepted a tipped pass. However, the Patriots picked up the pieces on their ensuing drive, as Thaxton Berch snagged a fade pattern out of the air for a quick six points.

At halftime, the band serenaded the 2020 homecoming court, the chosen girls waltzing through a white archway with a variety of glittering dresses. Senior Eliza Mazzaferro emerged from their v-shaped formation after the loudspeakers blared her name and the home grandstands added applause. Thankfully, the inclement weather that struck in the second half was held back during the procession, as wet hair and soggy heels do not make for a successful homecoming celebration.

Matt Jones separates a defensive back from his ankles. Photo by Lily Flowers

The half was swaying drastically in the Patriots’ favor before a late-October lighting storm dampened the mood. Braedon Mabry made an impressive leaping interception, returning the pigskin to the endzone for what seemed to be the second touchdown of the night. However, the play was called back because of a penalty. Matt Jones made good on the opportunity by scampering for a less negotiable touchdown soon after. Prep’s defense was undoubtedly the star of the evening, shutting out Parklane completely in the shortened contest. Jeffery Ince added a final touchdown on the offensive side as the raindrops gained size and frequency. After lightning delays and about an hour of waiting, the Patriots received word that the game had been canceled and the 23-0 score would enter the record books.

We will see if Prep’s next game against Presbyterian Christian in Hattiesburg can be more eventful than Friday night’s rollercoaster. Unless the matchup involves a crown, a lightning storm, and a milestone victory, it will not stand a chance. But, there is only one way to find out: come support your Patriots as they take on the Bobcats in Forrest County this week.

Coach Black’s historic 400th win. Graphic courtesy of Jackson Prep Sports’ Twitter