For the senior class of the 2015 Bassfield YellowJacket football team, a record that is a long way from ever being broken, maybe extended, but broken, probably not in our life time; four 2A State Championships for the four year seniors.
An amazing, though predictable, game this past Friday afternoon against the East Webster Wolverines, gave the Jackets exactly what very few thought possible at the beginning of the season.
Lead by star seniors Timothy Arnold, Jerome Johnson, Racheem Booth, Alex Reese, Gerald Reese, Sanchez Berry, Josh Hubbard, DeWayne Magee, Keenan McLaurin, Malcolm Myers, Antonio Thompson, and Jaylon Hathorne, this group has compiled a record of 59 – 5, and of course 20 – 0 in playoffs and 4 State Championships, a new 2A record.
The record for most Championships in a row belongs to South Panola with 5; the Jackets are ‘One for the Thumb’ away from tying that record. South Panola also holds the record for most overall appearances and Championships having won 11 and lost 3.
In 2A, Bassfield has a perfect record in the State Championships since inception with an 8 – 0 record and the only team in Championship history with more than 4 trips to have gone undefeated, Collins now has gone 4 times and are 4 – 0 as is Lumberton but not in a row.
In 2A the record for visits belongs to Taylorsville 5 – 4 and Calhoun City, who holds the record for most losses with a record of 1 – 8. There have been 22 different teams in the Championships, with four teams having not won – East Webster, Eupora, St. John, and Bay Springs.
Probably the best weather in the four game series, though cold, there was no snow, no icy rain, no threat of storms, this Championship Game was picture perfect football weather.
Being played at Ole Miss on artificial turf, being replaced with grass beginning this week, using the Rebels locker room, it was a perfect setting for a perfect football day.
The Jackets won the toss, always a good sign, and deferred to the second half.
The Wolverines took the opening drive and quickly found out that they may still be physically in North Mississippi, but they were not playing North Mississippi football. From the beginning it was ‘welcome to Bassfield Football – smash mouth style’.
Two runs for East Webster that netted 2 yards, then a long out of bounds pass and the Wolverines punter Tyler Cosby comes in and pushes the Jackets back to the 25 yard line with a 48 yard punt and roll.
With 10:31 left in the first quarter, and the Jackets offense rated #1, taking the ball for the first time against the Number 1 rated defense in 2A, it was time to see who would win the battle up front. It took a record 16 plays (for the year), 8:23 off the clock, a missed opportunity on a pass play that had Racheem Booth wide open, but Timothy couldn’t find him, before Gerald Reese scored from 1 yard out on a 4th and goal at the one. PAT wide left, 6 – 0 Jackets.
Jack Wilson, QB for East Webster probably is still wishing that their second series didn’t happen, as Jerome Johnson made his presence known. First chasing Wilson down the line with a hard tackle after a three yard gain, followed by an 8 yard sack and slam to the ground following a Wolverine penalty, and out comes the punting unit. This time for only 35 yards to mid-field as the first quarter came to an end.
Back to the run after a six yard pass completion from Arnold to Berry, but stalling out at the 17 coming up a half yard short on fourth and one, as the #1 defense flexed its’ muscle.
East Webster then went to the air realizing that the run game was not working. As it turned out, neither was the passing game, two incomplete passes before Jerome Johnson assisted Ron Thompson on bringing Wilson to the ground with a 4 yard sack.
Before the game several on the sideline had discussed the low snaps and length of time it took the punter to get the ball away, and it proved out as his third punt of the early going was blocked by Racheem Booth and recovered by Keenan McLaurin at the 4 yard line.
Two plays, a face mask call against East Webster, and Timothy Arnold put up his first touchdown of the evening. The two point try by Ron Thompson was no good, Jackets led 12 – 0.
Once again Cosby’s punt pinned the Jackets deep at the 26 yard line. A good defensive play, stopping Arnold for a three yard loss, before Sanchez Berry took the sweep and down the sidelines he went for 77 yards and the Jackets 3rd score of the afternoon putting the Jackets in command 20 – 0 after a two point swinging gate extra point try as Kevin McNair scored on the wide pitch and run.
A deep kick to the 5 yard line by Ron Thompson and a return only up to the 13 put E. Webster in the hole for their next drive. Kevin McNair ended this drive after a three yard loss, a no yard run then the 10 yard loss on a sack, and E. Webster went to the sideline with absolutely no answers. The fans as well as the sideline thought that this was a safety, but officials ruled forward progress at the 6 inch line.
After a good punt of 42 yards a return down to the E. Webster 30 and a block in the back call and the Jackets start at their 48. Holding on the first play, an incomplete pass that was going for the home run ball was knocked away at the last second, a run and a pass and the Jackets could not put together a drive to finish out the half.
A short punt, that should have had a running into the kicker call but wasn’t gave East Webster one last play with 4 seconds in the half. The Jackets backed up 8, rushed 3 and the Wolverines passed over the middle to get their first first down of the half.
The Wolverines were forced into a hole that they could not dig out of in the first half. Total offense of -8 yards in the first half and one first down on the last play of the half, and the Jackets get the ball to start the second half. The Jackets held the ball for 16:00 in the first half, 207 yards offense and three sacks.
One of the greatest trademarks of the Bassfield YellowJackets is the uncanny ability to seem to almost always start the second half with the ball, and more than 90% of the time score on that drive. No different in the Championship game, it took 5 plays, four of them passes, which is something I’m sure East Webster was not prepared for, and the Jackets were on the board again. The last a wide open Racheem Booth took in the pass from Arnold and 33 yards later, Jackets were sending a statement to the State.
Using up only 1:48 of the first half, the Jackets were up 27 – 0 after a Perrin PAT. The coaches of the Wolverines could only shake their heads surely thinking, I thought 20 – 0 was bad enough, but now 27 – 0 and we haven’t even touched the ball yet.
Not that it mattered, the miscues continued as the Jackets kicked off and East Webster fumbled but was able to recover at the 13. A positive run, then a penalty and once again they were moving backwards. Finally a good pass from Wilson gave the Wolverine fans something to cheer about on this now cold evening as the sun began to set.
Four more plays, a Jacket penalty but East Webster bogged down at the 20 and gave the ball back to the Jackets offense. East Webster finally out of the negative on offense with a positive 54 yards of offense.
Wasting no time the Jackets went right back to the air, DeWayne Magee streaking down the middle, but the turf monster caught his foot as the ball flew over his head. Back to the pass after a one yard run to Racheem for 19 yards, and then it was Kevin McNair’s turn. The future of the Jackets running was on display front and center. Four rushes and 37 yards and McNair was in the end zone. Cade’s PAT was missed; Jackets lead now 33 – 0 as the third quarter was going down quickly.
A befuddled East Webster team could do nothing after the kickoff going three and out and still not able to move the ball. 61 yards total offense, and nothing to show for it as the Jackets defense was taking exception to East Webster being the No. 1 defense in 2A, maybe stats wise, buy not physically.
The Jackets ran out the third quarter on its’ next possession not able to move the ball across mid-field from the 27 after the 42 yard punt by East Webster.
A punt of only 23 yards gave the Wolverines hope at the 31.
Another rare first down on a 10 yard pass, then an incomplete pass, then the troubles for East Webster continued as the ball was centered into the side of the motion man of the Wolverines, Ricardo Booth recovered and the Jackets were in business at the plus 40.
Two passes, a two yard run and the Jackets found themselves punting – at this point there was a slight relaxed attitude on the sidelines, and the intensity had fallen, but this game was over and the Jackets knew it, but the quarter had to be played out.
A 38 yard punt by the Jackets netted 18 as the ball was brought to the 20 as the ball sailed into the end zone. The Jackets defense was as tough as ever, and a negative one yard net and back to punt again was the Wolverines as the fans of East Webster grew colder and wearier.
A punt of 37 yards should have been left alone by Malik Shorts, but it was not, he fumbled and the Wolverine fans finally had a reason to stand and cheer as they recovered the fumble with 7:57 to play.
A four yard run, followed by a good pass by Wilson and East Webster found out what the end zone felt like. The PAT was good and the Jackets were still up 33 – 7.
An onside kick was coming and the whole world knew it, including the Jackets, recovering at the 33 yard line. Back to work by the offense, going 10 plays covering 67 yards with the first delay of game penalty of the day. The Jackets had gone to a signal play calling from the sideline for the first, and delays or hurry ups went away.
After the Jackets moved down to the 23 yard line of East Webster and the clock was running down, the JV offense took over. New quarterback Cason Sims, freshmen running back Jafharis Sims and freshmen Zion Hathorn took over the running back duties. Sims scored from one yard out, putting the final explanation mark on this offensive dominance. PAT no good, Jackets up 39 – 7.
Then it got sloppy with 2:21 left to play, as East Webster left its’ starters in with the JV of Bassfield playing defense. Five plays and East Webster was on the board again after a twenty yard pass. The only problem the JV had, they just couldn’t tackle. 2 point try was no good, Jackets still in control 39 – 13.
Another onside kick, which took a good E. Webster bounce and the offense of East Webster, was back on the field. Five more plays as the Jackets JV defense still couldn’t tackle, and the score closed in to 39 – 20 after a good PAT. The 10 plays ran the clock down only 19 seconds left in the game, East Webster threw in the towel and kicked deep, Cason took a knee and the Jackets had set a new record in 2A with its’ fourth consecutive State Championship.
Another dominate performance in this Championship game, but in fact in the entire season. The two loses only gave the Jackets more fire to prove that they were better than the scoreboard showed. After the loses came commanding wins in a weak division. A win over Amite County, a team that could have beaten the Jackets with its’ high powered offense, fell short as the defense of the Jackets bent but would not break; set the tone that this team was ready for the playoffs.
After that game, the defense started believing in themselves and improved game after game bringing them to this day, this moment, this commanding Championship.
Now if the fans can just use the Christmas holidays to consider how special Bassfield Football is – as one TV announcer said this team has shown that they are the Number One team, not just in Bassfield, not just in 2A south, not just in 2A in the state – but by far the best 2A football team in the country.
The celebration was on, and the feeling of exuberance fell to a ‘what do we do now, no more football, all is accomplished that was set out to be.’
As Bassfield and its’ loyal fans put this year to memory, the focus will quickly turn to next year – can we really do it again with losing so much talent, but…isn’t that what was said for the last four years past – just sayin’!
See you in the Spring for our first look at 2016.