Phillip Buffington and Jackson Academy Girls begin state football title defense with 5-1 win over Starkville Academy

Photo by Brad Bridges

By Robert Wilson

Phillip Buffington became one of the best high school football players in Mississippi history when he played at Jackson Prep in the mid-2000s.

Now Buffington is becoming one of the top high school football coaches in Mississippi.

He has led Jackson Academy to three straight BUT Division I championships — two boys and one girl — over the past two seasons.

Buffington took the first step toward her fourth straight state title Tuesday night with a 5-1 win over Starkville Academy in the women’s season opener at JA’s Raider Field.

Senior Addison Comer, sophomores Aubrey Edmonson, Anderson Ueltschey and Logan Burger and Brandon High transfer and rookie Izzy Scott scored a goal each Tuesday night.

After losing just one starter (Lani Roberts) from last year’s team, which finished 17-4-1, the JA girls are favorites to win their second straight state championship.

Forwards Comer and Harkins Simpson, midfielder DeDe Miller, defenders Mylee Maurer, Anna Adkins and Madi Brewer and goalkeeper Addi Roberts started most games last season. Buffington has seven other players who played a lot of time last season and are expected to do the same this year.

He also has three transfers and who was at JA who didn’t play last season and is expected to contribute to this year’s squad. Scott and Natalie Reedy are freshmen from Brandon High and Junior Macy Messer – daughter of JA’s new Associate Director for Student Life Jimmy Messer – is a transfer from Brookstone School in Columbus, Ga. Junior Ava Antonaros was at JA, but didn’t play football last season.

“It was really good to be there for the first game and take some of the nerves out,” Buffington said. “I think overall the girls played pretty well, especially in the first half. I think we have a very deep group of players who can step into the game and maintain the high level of expectations we have for our players. They are a great group to coach and I and new assistant Brandon Richardson are looking forward to another very competitive year in the MAIS.

Photo by Brad Bridges

Buffington beat his former trainer at Prep — Jon Marcus Duncan — to win the BUT Division 3 state title from last year and end Prep’s two-year reign as state champion. Then eighth grader Caroline Weir came off the bench in overtime and scored a game with 3 minutes left in the second 10-minute overtime period to give JA a 1-0 win at Prep, JA’s 11.e laundering of the season.

Buffington and JA had beaten Prep and Duncan 6-2 to win the BUT men’s title in February 2021. Last February, Buffington led the boys to their second title and defeated Hartfield Academy in the championship game.

Buffington, who served as an assistant for three years before taking over from Gardner four years ago, is considered one of the best male players in Mississippi history. He set a Mississippi record with 61 goals in his senior season for Prep in 2005. He led the Patriots to four straight state titles and was an eighth grader in Duncan’s freshman year in Prep. Buffington played one year at Marshall University and then three years at Mississippi College. He played three years of professional football, two in the United States and one in Australia. He has coached club football with Mississippi Fire, now Mississippi Rush, since 2012 and was head coach at Yazoo City’s Manchester Academy from 2013 to 2016 before joining JA in the fall of 2016.

JA is targeting victory number two this season on Thursday at Madison St. Joseph. The Lady Raiders host Collierville, Tennessee, High Friday at Prep.


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