The senior class at Mary Persons has had a nice view the past four seasons. This year, however, its members are more than spectators.
Coming into the season, the Bulldogs knew that a void would have to be filled with the graduation of 36 seniors, one that had gotten Mary Persons to the semifinal round of the state playoffs for the first time since 1998.
But here Mary Persons is again, with yet another senior class having stepped up to help lead the way. The Bulldogs and their group of 20 seniors have Mary Persons on the cusp of its second semifinal trip in a row. Standing in the way is Jefferson, Friday’s opponent in the GHSA Class 4A quarterfinals. The Dragons (10-2) edged Ridgeland 28-21 last week. Their two losses this season are to Thomson and St. Pius X, both of whom are still alive in the 4A playoffs.
And a rematch could also be in the making. A win by the Bulldogs would set up a semifinal tilt against the team that they edged in last year’s quarterfinals — Blessed Trinity. Mary Persons’ side of the bracket was blown wide open on Friday with two-time defending champion Cartersville losing to Blessed Trinity in an upset.
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Mary Persons has not advanced to the semifinals in back to back seasons since 1984 and 1985.
“It means a lot, for all the seniors,” Mary Persons receiver and defensive back Andre Threatt said. “We know we have a small team, but for us it doesn’t mean anything. we have to keep going.”
Fittingly, seniors have helped lead the way for Mary Persons on both sides of the ball this season. Jatorian Hansford’s 9.5 sacks are a team high. Bralen Harvey’s 693 rushing yards are a close second to those of junior Quen Wilson with 715, but Harvey does lead the team with seven rushing touchdowns.
It’s all part of a both sides of the ball effort that helped the Bulldogs take over during the second half of last Friday’s win against Baldwin byscoring 30 unanswered points in a 39-14 win.
“For these kids, they (had) never been in the second round of the playoffs with stuff on the line,” Mary Persons head coach Brian Nelson said. “The kids we've had in the past have played in those games as juniors or sophomores, and when they get up there, they have understanding of what to do.”
Now, the next thing to do for Mary Persons is getting past Jefferson.