West Point High School football players celebrate the team’s 27-12 victory against West Jones on Saturday night in the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A State Championship game at Southern Mississippi’s M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg. Photo by: James Pugh/Special to The Dispatch
December 2, 2018 12:03:12 AM
HATTIESBURG -- At 5-foot-6, West Point High School junior Brandon Harris will never qualify as the "big man on campus."
On a football field, though, few play bigger than Harris.
In a do-it-all performance, Harris earned Most Valuable Player honors in West Point's 27-12 victory against West Jones on Saturday night in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A State Championship game.
"This was just so awesome," said Harris, as he clutched the championship trophy in one hand and the MVP award in his other. "It's another state championship, and it's still the best feeling in the world. A year ago was fun. This was fun, too, to be out here grinding with all my teammates. Just so proud of everybody."
West Point (14-1), which won its 10th title overall, secured its third-straight state title for the first time since 1987-1989.
In a crowded backfield, Harris emerged in the second half of the season. On Saturday, he had 23 carries for 120 yards. After having only one 100-yard game in the regular season, Harris had four straight in the postseason, including a 200-yard game. He had seven rushing scores and two passing scores in the playoffs.
"Wish we had 100 Brandon Harris," West Point coach Chris Chambless said. "He has the biggest heart on the team. Whatever we ask, he does. He represents this team. Just a hard worker, a leader, always believes we can get the job done."
Harris has assumed some quarterback duties this season out of the Wildcat formation. His 25-yard touchdown pass to Traddius Anderson gave West Point a 7-3 lead midway through the first quarter.
Ryan Melton followed with a punt block and a touchdown. A touchdown by Jaylun Eggerson ran the West Point lead to 20-6 at halftime.
The Green Wave had scoring drives of 80, 80, and 84 yards.
"Proud of everybody on this team," West Point senior quarterback Jake Chambless said. "It all started in January. We had a vision. This team flew a little bit under the radar. Nobody knew how good we were going to be. The guys on this team knew. For the seniors, winning another championship was important. It just adds to the legacy."
West Point had 315 yards and 18 first downs.
"The offense didn't play its best," Harris said. "Fortunately, the defense had our backs. That's not a surprise. We have been watching them do this the entire season. People were sleeping on West Point, but we knew what the defense could do. Once we got into the playoffs, we knew this was our championship to win. Experience is important. Our guys have been there. That's why we just came out there with a lot of confidence.
"Even though we had some tight games, that just made us tougher."
After West Jones (12-3) pulled within 20-12, West Point made three-straight stops -- with a punt, turnover on downs, and an interception by Melton.
West Point then did what it does best. It went on a 15-play, 84-yard drive that covered 6 minutes, 20 seconds. Harris capped the drive with his 19th touchdown on a 5-yard draw play.
Minutes later, medallions were handed out, banners were presented, and dozens of pictures were taken. It's a post-game setting that makes West Point look right at home.
"Hopefully, coach Chambless will give us a couple of days off," Harris said. "Then it's back to the weight room. We got to start working hard on that four-peat."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter
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