E.A. Sports Today

Night to remember

White Plains’ Harris enjoying the afterglow of a game for the ages, but promises not to rest on his big night

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Jaden Harris was in that joyous mass of humanity last year when the White Plains football team carried his brother off the field on their shoulders. He thought it was pretty cool, and some part of him thought of what it might be like to have that kind of ride.

Pat Harris had the big game that night as the Wildcats won their only game of the year in the last game of the year, snapping a 24-game losing streak and giving them some valuable confidence going into the offseason.

Jaden Harris had that kind of impact Friday night. It might not have come with the same kind of shoulder rides off the field, but there was still that same feeling of satisfaction.

Harris ran for 198 yards, scored three touchdowns and had three interceptions in a 32-20 win over Ashville that was significant for the Wildcats on a number of fronts. It was their second win of the season – making this already their winningest season since 2014 after just four games – and snapped a 23-game Class 4A region losing streak.

Harris recalled having two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions in a game when he was like 6, but nothing compared to what happened Friday night.

“That might have been the best game I ever played,” he said. “I was proud of myself, but I couldn’t say it was just me; it was a team effort. I’ll always look back on it, but I won’t set my mark at that. I’ll try to do better every game.”

The junior already has done a lot as the Wildcats’ tailback, best cover corner and return man.

Chris White has seen some impressive outings during his coaching career, but he hadn’t seen one better in his four seasons as the Wildcats’ head coach. Harris scored on runs of 80, 3 and 49 yards and had interceptions in crucial situations in the first, third and fourth quarters.

“That was pretty impressive,” White said. “You just knew Friday night when Jaden was on the field something big was gonna happen. I think it was real special for him. I could tell a difference in practice today and walking in the halls in school.”

Harris’ second interception was particularly important. It came on the first play after he fumbled at the Ashville 1 on his way to what would have been another touchdown.

“Coach put me right back out there to make up for my mistake,” he said. “I told my teammates I’d get the ball back for you. I went back out, got it and when I came in I said I told you I’d get it for you.”

The win provided the Wildcats a huge dose of confidence as they seek their second ever playoff appearance and first in 24 years. They came close to winning several games last year, but just couldn’t finish. They host Cherokee County Friday feeling good about themselves and looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since the final two games of the 2013 season.

“I think our kids believe we have a chance,” White said. “I thought we had a lot of energy at practice today, guys studying film, asking quality questions to help them prepare for the game.

“They know we’ve got a win in the region, there are teams that don’t have any in the region and we’ve got a leg up on somebody; that’s the first time in their career they can say that. I think they finally realize they’ve got a chance. They don’t feel like a doormat. I feel like the win let them know we’re not that team and we can be a team that can compete and have chance to win on Friday night.”

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