November 10, 2009 11:08:00 AM
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
SCOOBA -- The Wild Rebel has its next star.
Randall Mackey is still a few months away from officially finding his way to the University of Mississippi, but when he does, coach Houston Nutt could have a quarterback with the potential to shift the Rebels'' offense to a sixth gear.
If you haven''t seen Mackey play, go to YouTube and find a highlight reel. Writers can attempt to describe Mackey''s escapability and poise, but you have to see him in action to appreciate it.
It''s safe to say, though, Mackey is cool as an assassin. At times, it looks like he''s hardly trying. But that''s because the sophomore quarterback from Port Sulphur, La., makes things looks easy. He glides on the field. He shifts from left to right like he is on skates, and he changes direction like he is flipping a switch.
A quarterback as shifty as Mackey could be hard to block for, but freshman center Billy Autrey said it is great blocking for a leader who can change the game with one play.
"When something bad happens he will get right back up and throw a fade route perfectly or scramble for 20 yards," Autrey said. "He doesn''t let anything hurt him too long. He is a great player."
Mackey, a preseason NJCAA All-America quarterback, repeated as the NJCAA''s Region 23 MVP. He also was named region 23 MVP last season.
On Saturday, he put his stamp on EMCC''s first MACJC state title with a performance for the ages. Mackey was 31 of 42 for 477 yards and seven touchdown passes in a 75-71 victory against Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. He also rushed for 125 yards on 18 carries.
Mackey showed his leadership abilities on the Lions'' final two scoring drives. Trailing 64-61 and facing a fourth-and-2 from the MGCCC 34 with 5 minutes, 12 seconds remaining, Mackey scrambled for 5 yards to keep the drive alive. He punctuated the run by walking forward and extending his right arm to signal first down.
The move was one of the few times Saturday Mackey showed emotion, but it wasn''t the last. He raised his hands on the EMCC sideline to celebrate an 11-yard touchdown pass to Lance Lewis that gave the Lions a short-lived 68-64 lead.
Mackey made sure the Lions got the lead back. Like he did on the previous drive, Mackey used arm signals to communicate with Lewis, a sophomore wide receiver, to let him know to be ready to make a play. That play came on first-and-10 from the Bulldogs'' 32 with 1:45 to go. Mackey took the snap in the shot gun and waited a few ticks before lobbing a pass to the left corner of the end zone. Lewis broke on the ball, moved inside his defender, and then rose up to make the catch that helped the Lions secure the school''s first football state title.
"He has the will to win," Lewis said of Mackey. "He leads us with that, and that is what everybody has to do."
Sophomore defensive end Claude Davis celebrated by tacking Mackey near midfield. The hit might have been the biggest one Mackey took all game.
True to his nature, Mackey got up and wiped himself off like nothing happened. This time, though, Mackey savored the moment by removing his helmet and holding his arms out to his sides as he walked to the EMCC bench.
"I told my defense, ''I am dead after this. I don''t have anymore,'' " Mackey said. "We wanted to win a championship. We just made history."
As fans poured out of the stands to join the EMCC players on the field after the game. Mackey stood off to the side. He took off his pads and game jersey and soaked it all in.
EMCC coach Buddy Stephens said Mackey should have plenty of more moments like that one at Ole Miss. He said Mackey is a quarterback who has the potential to do wonders if give the opportunity.
"Ole Miss has to play him at quarterback because he is a special young man," Stephens said. "I am really going to miss him, but I have one more game with him."
Mackey has been committed to return to Ole Miss since he signed with the school out of Bastrop High School in Louisiana.
"If they have a better one, gosh all mighty dog, they are going to be a great football team the next two years," Stephens said. "He is an outstanding young man and a really special kid."
Trust me, even those words don''t do Mackey justice.
Adam Minichino is sports editor of The Commercial Dispatch. Contact him at: [email protected]
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.