Dominant performance propels MA to title game

With a block from Andrew Martin (32), Hayden Huckabee breaks into the open en route to returning the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown.

With a block from Andrew Martin (32), Hayden Huckabee breaks into the open en route to returning the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown.

LINDEN – Marengo Academy will find itself in familiar territory next Friday – playing for a state championship.

Josh Holifield eludes a Clarke Prep would-be tackler on his way to a 32 yard touchdown run.

Josh Holifield eludes a Clarke Prep would-be tackler on his way to a 32 yard touchdown run.

By virtue of a 42-8 whipping of Clarke Prep Friday night, the Longhorns will travel to Troy Friday to face Edgewood Academy in the Class AA title contest. The ‘Horns will attempt to repeat as state champions, albeit in a higher class this time around. The Longhorns took the 2013 championship in Class A.

“It’s always good to get to the championship game,” said MA head coach Robby James, who earned his 298th career win Friday. “We’ve got a big week next week. I am proud of our team and of our school.”

Alston Dinning breaks a tackle while returning an interception against Clarke Prep.

Alston Dinning breaks a tackle while returning an interception against Clarke Prep.

James will be seeking his 10th championship as a head coach, but his focus is on next Friday’s contest.

“We haven’t really looked ahead at them,” he said of Edgewood, a 41-13 winner over Wilcox Friday night. “I don’t do a lot of that. But we’ve got this weekend and next week to prepare. We had better be ready. They’ve got some excellent athletes. Hopefully we’ll be able to move the ball some, but when you get to this level, you’d better get a touchdown when you get to the red zone.”

Marengo wasted no time making a statement in Friday’s semi-final game against Clarke Prep, whom the Longhorns blanked 41-0 in the regular season. On the opening kickoff, Hayden Huckabee raced 92 yards to give MA an early 6-0 lead.

When CP was unable to move the ball on the next series, Cason Cook crashed in and blocked the Gator punt at the 32, setting up a Josh Holifield touchdown run up the middle on the next play. Huckabee ran the two-point conversion, giving Marengo Academy a 14-0 lead.

Shade Pritchett wraps up a Clark Prep ball carrier.

Shade Pritchett wraps up a Clark Prep ball carrier.

Early in the second, Cook blocked his second punt of the evening, but the Longhorns handed the ball back on a turnover on the next play. Clarke Prep quickly returned the favor when Carson Huckabee recovered a loose ball at the Gator 32, and Hayden Huckabee scored on the next play. Kyle Friday’s PAT gave MA a 21-0 advantage, and Holifield scored from three yards out with 1:35 remaining before half to give the Longhorns a 28-0 lead at the break.

Hayden Huckabee scored the only points of the third quarter on a 50-yard run off a fake punt, and Weldon Aydelott capped the night’s scoring for MA on a 35-yard run in the fourth before Clarke Prep scored its only points with less than a minute to play.

“I thought we played well,” James said. “It’s always a little tough when you play a team twice, but we came out and did what we needed to do.”

With the win, Marengo climbs to 10-1 on the season. Friday’s championship game at Troy University kicks off at noon.

Cason Cook (3) and Carson Huckabee (50) bring down a Clarke Prep ball carrier.

Cason Cook (3) and Carson Huckabee (50) bring down a Clarke Prep ball carrier.