By Drake Flowers
It just wasn’t meant to be for the Colonels. Copiah Academy over-exceeded many expectations by making an appearance in the 2021 Class 5A State Championship game. Some would call it a miracle or a “Cinderella Season,” but those around Gallman would simply call it the profit of a lot of hard work. The Colonels fell short of their title dreams Friday afternoon at Jackson Academy to the second-ranked Heritage Academy Patriots by a score of 51-21. Now, most sports people don’t make their money on moral victories, but when you look at the circumstances surrounding this game—this season—it’s hard not to walk away filled with Colonel pride after watching what has happened within this football program, this school, and this community.
The Colonels fell victim to a bad matchup. Heritage, a very talented and athletic team, seemed to do a lot of things that the Colonels simply struggled to defend. On the flip side of that, they did a good job of taking away what the Colonels do best.
Heritage quarterback Mack Howard, who holds multiple division one offers, didn’t give Copiah a chance to use their physicality to wear him down like they had done so many times to opposing quarterbacks all season. The result was Howard completing six touchdown passes on the night—many of them into coverage that he dropped a perfectly-placed pass over.
The Colonels actually opened the scoring. After receiving the opening kickoff, JD Weed carried the ball 80 yards on the second play from scrimmage to give the good guys an early 7-0 Lead. It was the last score for the Colonels in the first half, as the Patriots scored 30 unanswered points to carry a 30-7 lead into the half.
The Colonels added two more rushing touchdowns from JD Weed, who finished with 314 yards on the ground and three touchdowns; but it simply would not be enough to outscore the high-powered air raid from the Patriots.
While it is a disappointing ending to the season, the red-and-blue-clad Colonels have nothing to hang their heads about. They accomplished more than many thought possible while igniting a school and a community with a level of school spirit that seemed to have been missing for some time. In just two seasons, Coach Billy Wayne Hankins has made Copiah Academy a consistent contender. There is no more looking past them on the schedule; there is no wondering who you play after them; there is simply the feeling of “uneasiness” when the Colonels roll into town.
Although we hate to, we say goodbye to a pivotal senior class who had much to do with the rebuilding efforts Coach Hankins put forth. A group of guys bought in to a brand-new coach and culture, and it took them all the way to a championship game.
It won’t be enough for the inhabitants of Colonel Field. They will soon get back to work, preparing for another run. The goal will remain the same—this time preparing for a different outcome. We will look up when the heat of August gets here and find a hard-nosed, tough group of Colonels ready to give it another shot, preparing to get back to Jackson.
By Drake Flowers