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Patriots' Griffin wins defensive MVP in All-Star game

 

Heritage Academy senior Moak Griffin comes in to make a tackle against Magnolia Heights in a regular-season game. Griffin earned defensive MVP honors in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA-AAAA Senior All-Star game last week.

Heritage Academy senior Moak Griffin comes in to make a tackle against Magnolia Heights in a regular-season game. Griffin earned defensive MVP honors in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA-AAAA Senior All-Star game last week. Photo by: David Miller/Special to The Dispatch

 

Adam Minichino

 

 

Moak Griffin just wanted to have fun. 

 

After a marathon of a football season that saw Heritage Academy win a district title, Griffin viewed the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) Senior All-Star game as a way to make new friends and to play the sport he loves one more time. 

 

Little did Griffin realize he was going to walk away with another honor to add to his collection. 

 

The Heritage Academy senior had two interceptions and caught a touchdown pass to help his White team earn a 24-22 victory against the Blue team in the annual event, which was played Friday at Jackson Prep. 

 

Griffin also had at least five pass breakups and multiple tackles to help him earn defensive MVP for his team. On offense, he caught a 52-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to help his squad rally from a nine-point deficit. 

 

"I was just looking at (playing in the game) like a reward because I worked so hard to get there," said Griffin, who played safety and was selected as a team captain. Heritage Academy teammate Clay Walters also was selected and played on the Blue team. "Some other guys said they wanted to play receiver, so I said they could play that position if they wanted to. It didn't matter that much. I just wanted to have fun." 

 

Griffin said the last time he played safety for extended snaps was against Lamar School in the regular season. The Patriots then moved Griffin to outside linebacker, where he helped solidify a defense that proved to be stingy in a run to a MAIS Class AAA, District 2 title. 

 

"It felt pretty natural (playing safety) because I had played it all of my junior year," Griffin said. "I like safety. I just like playing defense." 

 

Griffin said he could have had a third interception, but he admitted to trying to run before he caught the ball. Still, he said it was a satisfying way to complete a prep football career that also included an injury in his sophomore season. 

 

On Saturday, Griffin capped a highlight reel weekend by taking a pass from Carter Putt and taking about three steps to the rim and scoring the winning points in the final seconds to beat Madison-Ridgeland Academy. 

 

"It was kind of just reaction," Griffin said. "I was just trying to get to the rim. Luckily it went in." 

 

Heritage Academy continued its fast start to the basketball season Tuesday with a 49-47 victory against Hamilton. Reid Huskison had 19 points and Jared Long had 17.  

 

This weekend, Heritage Academy will play host to the Heritage Academy Shootout, a two-day girls and boys basketball event featuring public and private schools. 

 

Heritage Academy coach Sean Harrison said Griffin excelled in numerous roles for the Patriots this season. He said Griffin played free safety, cornerback, outside linebacker, wide receiver, at quarterback out of the Wildcat formation, and running back. 

 

Harrison said the contributions Griffin made in the weight room, at practice, and off the field might have helped the team more than what he did playing multiple positions. 

 

The performance came after Griffin suffered a season-ending injury against Adams County Christian Academy in the final game of the 2017 season. 

 

"The biggest thing with Moak was leadership," Harrison said. "I think Moak had an appreciation for football and he has an appreciation for basketball that a lot of these other guys don't have because he missed so much of it due to injuries. 

 

"He and J.R. (Lott) are the two unluckiest kids I have ever seen because it seemed like they were hurt every year. They would work so hard leading up to the season, so I think Moak had that appreciation and really showed it. 

 

"In the All-Star game Friday night, he showed he was one of the best athletes in this league, so I was really proud of him." 

 

Griffin said he isn't sure if he will play football or basketball in college. He said he already has been accepted to Mississippi State and is leaning toward studying pre-med. Griffin said he loves football a little more than basketball, so he is going to leave his options open before he makes a final decision. 

 

"It really hasn't hit me yet (that his prep football career has ended)," Griffin said. "I think about it every day. I worked really hard to get back for the team It was really gratifying to get back and to stay healthy." 

 

Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor

 

Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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