MADISON ACADEMY WINS BACK TO BACK SUPER SIX FOOTBALL CHAMIONSHIP
By Mike Easterling / rocktcitysports.com
VIDEO / Robert Ballard / rocketcitysports.com
TUSCALOOSA – Kerryon Johnson grimaced as he moved, courtesy of a tender shoulder he dislocated earlier during Madison Academy’s historic football season.
But a second straight Class 3A state football championship put some salve on what was hurting the top-ranked Mustangs’ standout junior.
Despite a different injury – a high ankle sprain that Madison Academy coach Eric Cohu estimated left the running back/defensive back at 75 percent – he scored on an early touchdown burst that started a 31-14 victory over Leeds at Bryant-Denny Stadium on an unusually warm Thursday.
“(The shoulder) hurts pretty bad,’’ said Johnson, who continued to list Auburn, Alabama and Florida State among his recruiting favorites. “Winning kind of snuffs out the pain.’’
Madison Academy, which led 14-0 at halftime, won without completing a pass in four attempts with an interception.
While Johnson staked Madison Academy to a 7-0 lead with a 43-yard touchdown romp off left tackle on the game’s opening possession, backfield mates Malik Miller and La’Markus Martin helped shut the door on the Green Wave.
Miller, a sophomore, scored two touchdowns and had a team-high 169 yards rushing on 20 carries. He was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Martin put the game on ice with a 3-yard run for the final TD that made it 31-14 with 3:28 left in the game. Johnson had 93 yards on seven carries and Martin added 78 on 13. Madison Academy (15-0) had never been undefeated. Leeds finished 12-3.
Before Martin's clincher, Nathan Geis kicked a 3A Super Six record 45-yard field goal that made it 24-14 and put Leeds on the ropes with 7:59 remaining. He broke the record of 43 yards set last year by Madison Academy’s Charles Trach.
“The second (championship) is a lot better than the first,’’ said Miller, a sophomore who played in last year’s 31-7 win over Fayette County in the championship game.
The win was career No. 100 for Cohu, whose team opened the season ranked No. 1 and went 15-0 to post the school’s first undefeated season. The Mustangs went unscathed despite playing a difficult schedule that featured 2A finalist Tanner as well as 4A Clay Central and 5A Cullman.
“It was tough having a target on us week in and week out,’’ Cohu said.
Because of his injuries Johnson, the MVP of last year’s title game and the catalyst for a near-upset of Handley in the 2011 championship, was used many times as a decoy.
“He took the role as the tough guy and fought through,’’ Cohu said. “That shows his heart and character.’’
Madison Academy went ahead 14-0 when Miller scored from the 1-yard line in the second quarter to finish the Mustangs’ second drive.
Leeds (12-3), which rode into the finals behind a power running game that featured an attack between the tackles with two runners who had gained over a thousand yards, instead surprised Madison Academy with a five-wide offensive set.
Leeds quarterback Tadarryl Marshall completed 11-of-23 passes for 147 yards with an interception by Hamlett.
Marshall also led the Green Wave with 166 yards on 25 carries.
After Madison Academy went ahead 14-0, Leeds pulled to within 14-7 behind on a 1-yard run by Tre Nation at the 6:19 mark of the second.
The Green Wave threatened to tie the game before halftime. Leeds faced fourth-and-goal at the three, and Marshall was thrown for a loss by Taylor Ziak as time ran out.
Leeds scored to open the second half on a 1-yard run by Tre Nation, but Madison Academy answered with a 10-yard TD run by Miller to make it 21-7 with 2:08 left in the third.
The Green Wave got to within 21-14 on a pass 28-yard TD pass from Marshall to Jacoby Lockhart with 50 second left in the third, but the Mustangs pulled away in the fourth.
Miller said Madison Academy starting setting a goal of repeating as state champions as the team "walked off the field at Jordan-Hare'' Stadium last year after it won the school's first title.
Johnson said the Mustangs, which again return a heavy core of players, will starting thinking three-peat "tomorrow.''