Photo: Grayson Alford runs for yardage against Jackson (Tenn.) Christian Friday night, Aug 18. (Bob Bakken/desotocountynews.com)
High school football is back! Friday night, Aug. 18, most DeSoto County high school football teams were playing in two-quarter jamborees, their preseason chance to hit somebody wearing another jersey ahead of the regular seasons starting next Friday night.
However, there was one game played that actually counted in the standings and that was the Northpoint Christian Trojans beginning the 2023 year on the road to Jackson (Tenn.) Christian.
The Trojans fell to the Eagles 21-14, as there seemed to be no way the Northpoint defense could stop Ja’lyn Mosley, a junior wide receiver who made several big plays and scored all three Jackson Christian touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Grayson Alford kept Northpoint in the game, as he accounted for both scores as the Trojans attempted a comeback in the second half.
Mosley staked Jackson Christian to a 13-0 halftime lead, finding the end zone on a 10-yard pass reception with 51.5 seconds left in the first quarter, and again on an eight-yard catch to paydirt with 3:05 remaining in the first half.
Northpoint’s offense received a spark after halftime and scored its first touchdown on a nine-yard pass from quarterback Jack Patterson to Alford with 1:55 left in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 13-7.
But Jackson Christian squelched any further thoughts of a comeback on their next possession, finding the end zone on a 38-yard pass catch and run by Mosely, making the score 21-7 after a successful two-point conversion.
Northpoint continued to battle and in the fourth quarter got back on the scoreboard with Alford’s second touchdown of the evening, a 13-yard run with 5:22 left. The conversion kick made the score 21-14, which is how the contest ended.
At 0-1 for the season, Northpoint will begin their home schedule on Friday, Aug. 25, hosting Magnolia Heights at Trojan Field. The pregame activities will feature the retirement of Chistian Saulsberry’s Northpoint football jersey. The Northpoint graduate was a major player in the Trojans’ run to its 2015 TSSAA Division II-A state championship game appearance against St. George’s of Collierville, Tenn.
Saulsberry eventually reached the pro football level, playing for Edmonton of the Canadian Football League last season, but was tragically shot and died last December.
Here are postgame comments from Northpoint coach Tyler Gold on Friday’s contest.
On the contest: “It’s two very evenly-matched teams, well coached on their side of things. They got some kids who made some great plays and we had some things that went against us early, a couple of fourth-down stops that they were able to get that stopped our momentum. A fumble in the first half stopped a drive that we had momentum on, and then we got the ball with too little time left. In the second half, I thought our kids responded. That’s why we play these guys the first week every year. It’s two evenly-matched teams that represent Jesus Christ and fight the correct way on the field and then pray together afterwards. It’s only going to make us better.”
On adjustments made at halftime: “A couple of the blocking schemes we cleaned up at halftime and even in the first half and a couple reads that we were doing. We got the ball into the hands of (quarterback) Jack (Patterson) and he’s really good, so we let him get into a rhythm and let him get going in the second half.”
On Grayson Alford’s two touchdowns: “He’s just a tough, physical football player. He wants the ball, he doesn’t care how he gets it. He’ll run it, he’ll catch it and he’ll throw it.”
On Christian Saulsberry’s jersey retirement: “He (Saulsberry) made the pros and made the Canadian league and I got to meet him while he was training. He just shone and you could just see Jesus shining right through with a smile on his face. It hurts to have to retire a kid’s number, but I’m glad that we, as a school, can remember him in a couple different ways and I hope it will bring a little bit of healing to his family. It will be a big, emotional moment for our school. We miss Christian and we’re praying for his family every day. We’re happy to be able to do something to help them heal.”
Friday, Aug. 18
Jackson Christian, Tenn. 21, Northpoint Christian 14
Notes: Grayson Alford scored both Northpoint touchdowns. Trojans host Magnolia Heights next Friday night.
Madison Ridgeland Academy 56, Magnolia Heights 14
Prep football jamborees
Lake Cormorant 20, Hernando 7
DeSoto Central 13, Center Hill 6
Houston, Miss. 7, Southaven 0
Lewisburg 40, Independence 0
Center Hill 2, Ridgeway 0 (25-7, 25-11)
Crockett County 2, Center Hill 1 (25-20, 26-28, 15-10)
JUCO volleyball – at Pensacola, Fla.
Enterprise State 3, Northwest 2
Santa Fe College 3, Northwest 1