Shelby Academy falls to Jackson in state title game
Jackson Academy proved why it entered this season and Friday’s game as the favorite to win the AISA, Class 1A state championship, claiming a second straight title with a decisive victory over Shelby Academy.
The Eagles proved too fast and too powerful for the Raiders, who fell to the defending champs 42-8.
&uot;They were the best football team and they wanted it,&uot; Shelby Academy coach DeWayne kervin said of Jackson. &uot;They are just a really good football team.&uot;
Kervin said the Raiders were disappointed with the loss, but excited about the opportunity to play in the championship game.
Particularly impressive, Kervin said, was the chance to play at Troy State University’s newly renovated football stadium.
While they enjoyed the big-time surroundings of an NCAA Division 1 stadium, the Raiders didn’t take so well to the artificial surface.
&uot;Our kids didn’t like it much,&uot; Kervin said. &uot;It’s different. It’s got some spring and the ball bounces funny on it.&uot;
And bounce it did. The football seemed to be on the ground much of the afternoon as the two teams combined for 14 fumbles, six of which resulted in possession changes.
Jackson Academy lost the turnover battle, losing four fumbles and tossing two interceptions, but Shelby Academy failed to capitalize, scoring on only one drive after a Jackson turnover.
The Raiders only score of the ballgame came with just under six minutes in the half when Ryan Elm took a sweep down the right sideline for a 35-yard touchdown. Andrew Elm tacked on the two-point conversion with a quarterback keeper.
But Jackson had already built a 15-point lead after returning a blocked field goal for a touchdown.
Shelby Academy recovered an Eagle fumble on the game’s opening drive, but Ryan Elm’s kick attempt was deflected and scooped up by Jackson’s Nick Evans who returned it 70 yards for the score.
&uot;That hurt us. It just blew up in our face,&uot; Kervin said. &uot;We didn’t get to play on any adreniline after that.&uot;
J.B. Beard led the Raiders with 8 tackles (4 solo, 4 assists), a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a sack.
Randal Lewis picked up 5 solo stops with a forced fumble and an interception. Cornerback Barry Harrison forced two fumbles with an interception and one pass broken-up.
Tommy Childress, Jason Stokes, Rick McBride and Colby Green also forced fumbles for Shelby Academy.
On offense Ryan Elm finished the day with 96 yards on 25 carries despite facing six Jackson defenders on the line of scrimmage much of the afternoon.
Ryan Elm and his twin brother, Andrew, both graduate this year.
The two combined for more than 25 touchdowns and 2,000 rushing yards this season, more than two-thirds of the Raiders’ offense.
&uot;They were a large part of our offense and good leaders,&uot; Kervin said. &uot;It’s going to be hard to replace them.&uot;