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Behind its defense, Heritage Academy grabs title

12:00 AM, Nov. 10, 2012 EST

Heritage's defense played a huge role in Friday's MAIS AAA, Division II championship. / Bob Smith/Special to The Clarion-Ledger


Immediately after the game, Heritage Academy coach Barrett Donahoe tossed the game ball to defensive coordinator Tate Marsh.

Boy, did he deserve it.

The Patriots' defense played rock solid on Friday, leading Heritage to a 10-3 victory over Magnolia Heights in the Academy AAA, Division II title game at Robinson-Hale Stadium.

It was the first state title since 1986 for the Patriots (7-5), who rebounded from a 2-5 start.

"This group was always touted as one of the more athletic groups to come through here," said Donahoe, in his first season at the Columbus school. "So we knew we had athletes when we got here. Getting them in the right mind frame of playing consistent and doing what they needed to do is what we focused on. It paid off. "

The biggest defensive play of the game came on fourth-and-12 with just over 3 minutes left.

Magnolia Heights senior running back Fernando Van Hook took a direct snap and sprinted outside towards the end zone but was stopped just inside the 1-yard line by a slew of Patriots, led by Cade Lott and Hudson Bean.

All the scoring came in the first half.

Heritage's Graham McCain and Magnolia Heights' Colin Liles traded first-quarter field goals. Bean scored on a 3-yard run in the second quarter.

It was a defensive battle the rest of the way.

"We played tremendous defense over the last six weeks," said Donahoe. "We struggled on defense against JA (a 41-35 loss) and we challenged our guys after that to refocus."

Van Hook, a transfer from Memphis University School, finished with 150 yards on 31 carries and eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark .

"Van Hook is an incredible player and he'll be playing on the next level," said Heritage defensive end Taylor Fields. "We're the only team he hasn't scored on this year. To hold him out of the end zone in two games is phenomenal."

Magnolia Heights, which won just one game last season, finished 8-4.

"Our guys just put last year behind them and worked hard in the offseason and it paid off, but we just came up one game short," said Chiefs coach Cliff Young.

Russell Christian 29, Calhoun Aca. 28

Arik Washington scored on a 3-yard run with 8:26 left and Russell Christian won the first title in school history.

Washington also had a 10-yard TD run and Ashton Temple had two TD catches for the Warriors (13-0).

Kyle Carter and Danny Joe Norman had two TDs each for Calhoun Academy (11-2).




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