MPSA sweep: AC’s Ogden, Trinity’s King garner honors

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; A week after he missed his team’s 10th game in as many weeks, Adams County Christian running back Luke Ogden rushed 25 times for 214 yards in a loss to Silliman.

There were many viable candidates for the 2003 Natchez Democrat All-Metro Player of the year, but none were more valuable to his team than Ogden, a senior running back who’s built like his green Ford Custom F-100, but glides from hashmark to hashmark like a Porsche 911.

The 6-0, 219-pound back &045; an All-Met first teamer last year &045; crossed 1,695 yards of gridiron in 2003, including one win at Central Private where he rushed for more than 400 yards.

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The Rebels got off to a 4-1 start before hamstring and sternum injuries began to catch up with their workhorse. ACCS finished 4-8 after losing to Madison Ridgeland Academy in the playoffs.

&uot;I think that was the mindset of everybody else. When I was playing, we were doing fine, but when I was out I think my teammates lost some confidence because they felt like I had to be there,&uot; Ogden said. &uot;But there is no way I could’ve done what I did without the other 10 people.&uot;

Trinity Episcopal head coach David King joined Ogden in collecting area top honors in being named the Democrat’s Coach of the Year.

King led the Saints to a 13-1 record with their only loss coming in the Mississippi Private School Association granddaddy of them all, a 19-14 defeat to Heidelberg Academy in the Class A championship game.

It was the second time in three years King ushered Trinity to Robinson-Hale Stadium on the campus of Mississippi College.

&uot;I hope the kids, like me, don’t have any regrets,&uot; said King, who won the whole enchilada in 2001. &uot;We started in June and were one touchdown away from what everybody wants. That’s a tribute to how hard these kids worked.&uot;

With a stable of seniors coming back this season, King and his players had to fight off preseason hype that was gift-wrapping them a state crown.

A blue-collar approach, a cornucopia of offensive weapons and an unyielding defense proved Trinity was the baddest kids on the block for an unbeaten regular season.

However, the loss of tailback/safety Chase Brown in the last week of the season, and the eventual loss of freshman nose guard Stevan Ridley made the yellow brick road a bit bumpy for the Saints.

&uot;I don’t think people realize how big Chase was for us on both sides of the ball,&uot; King said. &uot;We had to overcome a lot of things. We had a load of talent and played in the big game. That’s what people start the season thinking about and we were there.&uot;

It was the same mentality Ogden brought with him to preseason workouts. And, despite losing its last six games of the regular season, AC had a shot to knock off MRA in the MPSA Class AAA-Division II semifinals Nov. 14.

Ogden scored on a six-yard run with 8:22 left to pull the Rebels within one, 20-19, before Jim Owens hauled in his third touchdown pass of the night from Chad Crosswhite for the final nail.

&uot;We should’ve beat MRA. That’s the only thing I was hoping for was to play for a state championship,&uot; said Ogden, who has not decided about his future, but will take the ACT again in February to improve his score.

When King showed up on the scene more than six years ago, the idea of Trinity playing for a state title was as ludicrous as some of the rhymes the rapper Ludicrous spits on his CDs.

The Saints had gone 0-10 and 1-9 in successive years. But with an emphasis put on conditioning and a crop of athletes coming up, King’s crystal ball appeared magical.

Now King must do a bit of abracadabraing again, as the Saints will more up to Class AA after the MPSA realigned earlier this month.

&uot;Moving up classifications to double-A, there will be a lot of apprehension on some people’s parts,&uot; King said. &uot;When we got here seven years ago, we wanted to be a program to be reckoned with, not just a one-hit wonder like a lot of programs. We’ll find a way to battle back and be a strong double-A team.&uot;

The cupboard is not completely bare.

Despite the losses of seniors such as Brown, quarterback Ryan Rachal, backs Gregory and Walt Ketchings, linebacker Ivan Nastally and lineman Tres Atkins, the Saints return a lot of defensive speed in Ridley, Zach Rogel and Joey Wilson.

&uot;I guess when you start building a great program the kids who are underclassmen try to achieve what those before them did,&uot; King said. &uot;It’ll be a big task in double-A.&uot;

Even bigger when considering Trinity is now in a district, which is arguably the best all of MPSA has to offer.

The new 4-AA includes past champions Oak Forest, who the Saints beat in double overtime in 2003, and Centreville, along with Columbia and Silliman.

&uot;Any coach worth his salt puts more pressure on himself than any fan can. We look forward to double-A and playing in the best district other than any one in MPSA,&uot; King said.

&uot;Depth will be a killer in double-A. A lot of people think we’re going to be a losing team, but these kids aren’t accustomed to that. They won’t roll over. They’re excited about being in the same district as (four) of the top programs in the state.&uot;

Likewise, AC will move back down to AA and enter into District 3-AA with Central Hinds of Raymond, Chamberlain-Hunt Academy of Port Gibson, Copiah Academy of Gallman, Prairie View Academy of Bastrop, La., and Riverfield Academy of Rayville, La.

However, Ogden will only get to see those games as a fan from the sidelines. He’s not sure of his next step, but is well aware that no moments &045; perhaps ever again &045; will shine as bright as those under the Friday night lights.

&uot;This was my last year. My last chance to prove to anybody that I could do it,&uot; Ogden said. &uot;I had to battle through injuries, but it’s been a lot of fun though.

&uot;In college, (football) turns more into a job. You’ve got to be committed to it. It’s going to be a lot different.&uot;