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WCCA plays for state title for first time since 1988

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Wilkinson County Christian Academy defenders swarm Newton County Academy’s Thomas Jones during the MAIS Class A South State championship game Friday. The Rams defeated the Generals 35-18.

WOODVILLE — Wilkinson County Christian Academy quarterback Taylor Prevost didn’t downplay the significance of Friday night’s win.

After topping Newton Academy 35-18, the Rams secured a South State title and an MAIS Class A state championship berth for the first time since 1988. It was a huge moment for Prevost and the rest of his teammates as they celebrated with the South State trophy in hand.

“This is really, really big,” Prevost said. “We haven’t been to state since 1988, and that’s quite a while.”

His jubilation was shared by his head coach, as David Wright expressed the pride he had in his players beating a tough Newton Academy immediately following the win.

“I’m just overwhelmed with all the excitement at how well the kids handled adversity,” Wright said. “We handled a big attack with Newton coming over here and bringing their A game, and having to go against that was tough. We grinded it out, and it wasn’t pretty, but we’re headed to Jackson.”

As first-year head coach of the Rams, Wright said he was very humbled for his team to have a shot at claiming a state title.

“I’m very blessed and very lucky to have a senior class that pulled us in and my offensive coordinator Kyle White to open up their arms and welcome us and be true to who they really are,” Wright said. “These friendships opened the door to a new life down here in Mississippi.”

Prevost said the team’s pursuit of a state championship began back in the summer, when Wright put the players through a rigorous summer conditioning program.

“That was the summer of hell,” Prevost said. “That was the worst summer workouts I’ve ever been through, but it was worth it. It was a new coach coming in, a different philosophy, a different thing. We worked hard, set the goal to go to state, and we reached it.”

Jalen Washington, whose 99-yard kickoff return at the end of the first half gave the Rams a 14-12 intermission lead and a huge momentum boost, also said the quest to a state championship has been on the players’ minds all season.

“It’s pretty big,” Washington said. “We set our minds at the beginning of the year to make it to state, and now we’re on our way. We’ve been wanting this for a whole.”

Hayden Patterson, who had a 30-yard interception return in the fourth that helped seal the Rams’ win, said it felt good to be a part of Rams history Friday night, especially after last season’s disappointing second-round playoff exit.

“Last year, we could have gone just as far,” Patterson said. “We haven’t won South State since ’88, so we’re making history. This school has never hosted a South State championship, so I’d just like to thank all my fellow teammates.”

WCCA (12-1) will take on Tri-County Academy (13-0) for the state championship Friday.