Madison Central to celebrate the remarkable 1999 Jaguars
Madison Central will celebrate it’s state championship team of 1999 Friday night when the Jaguars play host to Jackson Callaway.
That 1999 team, coached by the inimitable Mike Justice, has to rank as one of the greatest high school teams in Mississippi history. They were a remarkable group that featured two future NFL offensive linemen, Chris Spencer and Doug Buckles, an NFL linebacker Parys Harrelson, an NFL wide receiver Mike Espy and one of the greatest placekickers in pro football history, Stephen Gostkowski.
And here’s the kicker: Perhaps the best player on the team, running back Bobo Brown, never made the pros because of injuries suffered in college.
They were dominant. And they were extremely well-coached, although you’d never get Justice to tell you that.
“The best thing I did is I didn’t screw them up,” Justice recently said, laughing as he said it.
Justice was Old School. If something worked, he didn’t change it. If a play kept working, he kept running it. When Madison Central trounced Provine in the state championship game, Brown kept running behind that huge, talented offensive line keyed by Buckles and Spencer.
I was covering that championship game on a tight, tight deadline, so I met Justice at midfield for a quick 20-second interview before knocking out my column.
Here was the interview:
Me: “Congratulations Mike. Let me ask you something: Do you know how many passes y’all threw tonight?”
Justice, pausing and obviously thinking about it, finally said: “Well, I know this much. If we threw one, it was a damned audible.”
They never threw it. They didn’t have to. It might have been the shortest post-game interview I ever did. It might have been the best.
“That was a close team, a great team,” Justice said recently. “I can’t wait to see all those guys all together again. Friday night ought to be fun.”