2 Natchez referees help officiate MHSAA Class 3A State Title game

Published 10:19 pm Friday, December 11, 2020

NATCHEZ — Tony Nichols and Kejuan McClain, both from Natchez, were members of the officiating crew at the 2020 MHSAA Class 3A State Championship game between the Magee High School Trojans and the Noxubee County High School Tigers.

The game was played on Friday, Dec. 4 at the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson. Magee won the game 49-26 to finish undefeated at 12-0 and win its first state football title since 2000.

And what a thrill it was for Nichols and McClain to be a part of such a big game.

“We’re proud of what we’re doing. It’s hard to officiate a state championship game,” said Nichols, who has been an official for eight years. McClain has been doing this for over 15 years. And on this date, McClain was the referee and Nichols was the field judge.

As to how they found out they were going to even be a part of the crew, Nichols said, “It was emailed to us from our commissioner. Select ones go to the state playoffs. Robert Holloway, he does the selections. They look at our performance throughout the season.”

When asked what his reaction was when he found out that he was selected to be a part of the officiating crew for what was the first of six MHSAA football state championship games that took place last weekend, Nichols said, “I was nervous and excited at the same time. I felt proud of myself for all the work I did. I was also proud of McClain. He’s the one that trained me. I was excited to hear that I was on the crew with him.”

Nichols was a part of longtime Mississippi high school official Merriell McClelleis’s crew during the regular season.

Nichols added when he walked into the stadium, that the atmosphere was like nothing he had seen before.

“It was a big stage. With the cameras and everything, it was pretty big. After a few plays, it was a normal Friday (afternoon). You just do what you were asked to do,” Nichols said. “McClain said the same thing. He enjoyed it and is looking forward to next year.”

Nichols noted that none of the fans from either team say anything during or after the game about any of the calls made. He then said, “We actually got a compliment from the committee. We set the tone for the rest of the crews.”

As for how many games each official was able to officiate because of the shortened season,” Nichols said, “We got to max up to six or seven games because of the COVID. You never know with a playoff game. This was my first State game.”