By Robert Wilson
The three-time MAIS Class 6A and No. 1 Madison-Ridgeland Academy champion seemed on course for a fourth straight state title, leading 14-0 in the second quarter over No. 2 seed Jackson Prep.
Prep needed a spark to stay in the game.
Senior quarterback Paxton Thompson gave Prep one.
The 6-foot, 180-pound Thompson ran for a 60-yard touchdown with 3 minutes, 18 seconds to play before halftime to cut the MRA lead in half.
Then Thompson completed two touchdown passes in the third quarter — a 41-yarder to senior wide receiver William Laird in the third quarter and a 71-yarder to senior wide receiver Will Upton — to lead Prep to a 21-14 win, to wrap up MRA’s three-year state championship on Saturday night at Mississippi College’s Robinson Hale Stadium in Clinton.
Thompson completed 13 of 24 passes for 227 yards and two TDs, running for the key TD.
For his outstanding performance in the state title game, Thompson was named Junction Deli Metro Jackson Football Player of the Week.
Thompson’s key games helped Prep win his seventh straight game and avenge a 26-14 regular-season loss to MRA. Prep finished with a 12-1 record and won his first state title since 2018, defeating MRA for the first time in five meetings. Prep’s most recent win over MRA was a 33-27 win in the 2018 state championship game. MRA had won 20 of their last 21 games and 51 of their last 53 games against the MAIS competition before Saturday’s loss.
Thompson finished the season with 2,557 yards, MAIS-best 31 TDs and just 9 interceptions.
“Paxton did some really big games on Saturday,” said freshman prep coach Doug Goodwin. “His long touchdown run really got us going. The touchdown run that Paxton recalled was really good too, as were the two touchdown throws. So he made three touchdowns and had two more called back. Things didn’t go well for us early on and Paxton did a really good job not pressuring and trying to do too much. He’s played great for us all year. Paxton shopped early and was eager to learn the system as soon as I got here (Goodwin was a Hall of Fame coach in Alabama and worked at Auburn and Ole Miss before taking the prep job earlier this year). He’s a smart player. We did a lot of offensive play throughout the season and he took it very well. I feel like he deserves a chance to play in college (Thompson hasn’t had any offers yet) and I hope he gets that chance.”