“Everybody takes him for granted,” Mask said. “If somebody else got 200 yards every week they would be bragging about it, but the kid gets 200 yards every week and takes a pounding. He just gets up and goes right back out there again.”
In addition to McPherson, St. Paul’s got 54 yards on 14 carries from backup B.J. Edmonds with quarterback Miller Mosley ading 43 yards on the ground. Sharing the load is something that has been the hallmark of the Saints this season and Mask said that wasn’t going to change in the state title game.
“It keeps us fresh,” he said. “Our goal going into the year was to keep McPherson fresh when we got in games 12, 13 and 14, where he wasn’t just beat to pieces. Edmonds brings that to the table. He would be a star back anywhere else and he’s a star back at St. Paul’s. It’s a little thunder and lightning and it helps us out a lot.”
A talented defensive back that is committed to South Alabama, Jalen Thompson scored a pair of touchdowns and added four tackles on defense for the Saints. Taking on more of an offensive presence as a senior, Thompson said this was the ultimate goal and it’s amazing to see it through.
“It means a lot,” Thompson said. “I have been playing with these guys since sixth grade. That’s the only thing we have talked about is a state championship. To wait until my senior year and go 15-0 is the best feeling in the world. I just wanted it for the guys next to me on my team. We have worked hard ever since June 22. From there on we had clear eyes that we wanted to be in Auburn and we wanted to win it.”
After the high-scoring games on Thursday, the 5A tilt was a breath of fresh air as defense dominated for the first quarter with the only scoring threat a failed Pleasant Grove fourth down try from the St. Paul’s three-yard line. Things change in the second quarter however with the Saints taking control thanks to a 13-play, 66-yard scoring drive. McPherson was the workhorse on the drive as he carried the ball five times with the last coming for a touchdown from four yards out.
With quarterback De’juan Feagan running the show the Pleasant Grove offense answered back with a 65-yard drive that took just six plays. The big play was a 39-yard strike to Amarui Callens that put the ball on the three. Big Brandon Simmons took care of the rest as he barrelled into the end zone for the score. The Spartans missed the extra point to make it 7-6 St. Paul’s.
McPherson and the Saints responded with another impressive drive, this one for 61 yards. The speedster showed some toughness with three consecutive runs to finish it off, the last coming from 10 yards out for the score.
A quick fumble by talented freshman Myles Mason from Pleasant Grove put the St. Paul’s offense back on the field and they didn’t waste any time putting another touchdown on the board. Taking over on the 35 of the Spartans, the Saints moved the ball to the four-yard line where quarterback Miller Mosley hit Jalen Thompson for the short touchdown pass and a 21-6 lead heading into the break.
Taking the ball to open the second half the Saints put a nail in the coffin of Pleasant Grove with a 69-yard scoring drive finished off with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Thompson for his second score of the night. McPherson’s final carry of the night covered 54 yards on the next possession to push the lead to 35-6 before Pleasant Grove scored a late touchdown for the final margin.