Perfect season, third-straight title

By DAVID HEALY,

JACKSON — The St. Joseph Catholic School football team trailed by two points early in the second quarter when Fighting Irish senior Dillon Johnson ran around the Indianola Academy defense and raced down the left sideline for a 72-yard touchdown.

Johnson’s run was just the beginning.

The Fighting Irish turned the last minutes of the second quarter of the MAIS Class 3A state championship at Jackson Academy game into a triumphant coronation as Johnson and his teammates put an exclamation point on their third straight MAIS state championship with a 55-24 victory over Indianola Academy.

Johnson and his teammates finished the season with a 13-0 record.

“It was the perfect ending to the perfect season,” said Johnson.

Johnson, along with his all-star teammate Trey Benson, now leave a legacy at St. Joseph that will not soon be forgotten as the two good friends move on to play football at the highest collegiate level.  Johnson has committed to Mississippi State, and Benson has committed to the University of Oregon.

“I do not think what Trey and Dillon did will ever be matched,” St. Joseph coach John Baker said. “This was a special way to end the season for two of the most special young men that I have coached.”

Indianola Academy (9-5) head coach Tommy Nester gave total credit to St. Joseph. The Colonels, who defeated the Fighting Irish in 2018, were the last team to beat St. Joe who now has a 24-game winning streak.

“Congratulations to them,” Coach Nester said. “They were a great team, and they definitely deserved to win.”

Johnson backed up his 72-yard run in the second quarter by intercepting an Indianola pass on the Colonels’ next possession. One play later Benson broke through two Colonel tackles and dashed for a 60-yard score.

Moments later, after a successful St. Joe onside kick by Frank Joseph Serio, St. Joseph quarterback Mekhi Norris connected on a 50-yard touchdown pass to junior Kaleb Lockett to put St. Joseph up 28-10 with seven minutes until the half. 

For good measure, the Irish would tack on three more touchdowns in the second half, an 8-yard run by Benson, a 39-yard run by Norris and a 49-yard run by Johnson.

St. Joe led 42-10 at halftime, and much of the second half was played with a continuous clock.

“I am so happy for what we have accomplished,” Benson said. “I give all the credit to my teammates.”