STEENS — Dakota Shaw didn’t have any doubt he was going to come back.
First-year Columbus Christian Academy football coach Bill Beck wasn’t sure. After seeing his quarterback leave the game in the fourth quarter due to a big hit, Beck told Shaw it was up to him if he wanted to return to the action.
With the game on the line, Shaw didn’t hesitate.
“I felt like my teammates needed me and they wanted me out there,” said Shaw, who also played in the secondary. “They knew I could give them everything I got.”
The decision paid off, as Shaw scored on a 9-yard run with 1 minute, 45 seconds left in regulation to lift CCA to a 14-8 victory against Porter’s Chapel in the season opener for both teams in Vicksburg.
The Rams had to endure four lightning delays on a night when Shaw took at least two big hits in which he said he was slammed to the ground. On the last one in the final stanza, he said his neck was sore and that he didn’t know how to describe how it felt. Shaw was out of the game for about three minutes before deciding it was time to return to lead the team to a victory.
CCA used a 24-yard pickup on a reverse pass from Jordan Meek to Will Teague on third-and-18 to move into the red zone.
“It was amazing,” Shaw said of the game-winning march. “My teammates were all happy for me. They were all blocking. It all came together on the last play and it just happened. It was a good feeling.”
Beck said the coaching staff checked out Shaw closely before allowing him to return to the game. He said Shaw did a good job of executing a drive that featured four completions to help CCA rally after a turnover gave Porter’s Chapel a short field on its only score.
“I just think the whole group of guys is kind of hungry,” Beck said. “They want to have a successful season. They have put in a lot of work. They just didn’t wanted to finish the ballgame and try to make something good of it.”
Beck said he has seen teams go the other way, so he was proud of his players for capitalizing on the opportunity. He also praised the efforts of Shaw, who he acknowledged isn’t the biggest player, but is someone who is a good leader and is able to rally his teammates. Beck said Shaw is growing into a more vocal presence.
“He has realized there is a lot more on his shoulders and he has become more vocal and is trying to pull people together and get them in the right spots,” Beck said. “He is trying to make them realize these are the things we have to do to be successful. He has done a good job of that.”
Beck describes himself as “an old, defensive coach,” so he credited the defense for its role in the victory. He said he enjoyed watching the Rams run to the football and gang tackle.
When asked what was more impressive — the defense holding Porter’s Chapel to eight points or the game-winning drive — Shaw didn’t hesitate, much like Friday night when he returned to the field in a big spot.
“I am never going to forget that,” Shaw said. “There was something special about that.”
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.