The Mesa High football program took time to recognize its past Friday, honoring four former players who went on to win three national titles and a Super Bowl between them.
Then, after the Jackrabbits took the field for their game against Basha, running back Kris Jackson went out and put on a performance worthy of its own honors.
Jackson rushed for a school-record 341 yards and a touchdown as Mesa held on for a 31-29 home victory against Basha in a 6A conference non-section matchup.
Mesa inducted five alumni into its ring of honor during a pregame ceremony, including former football players Via Sikahema, Deuce Lutui, Orlando McKay and Robert Holcombe.
Sikahema held the previous record of 314 set in 1978 versus Central High.
The champions got to witness a winning effort against Basha thanks to the brilliant play of Jackson, who picked up his final yards of the night on an 11-yard run that gave the Jackrabbits a first down and allowed them to run out the clock.
Jackson, a 5-foot-11 senior, was also named Mesa’s homecoming king during halftime Friday.
“Pretty good night,” he said afterward, a crown on his head and a huge smile on his face.
“It was great bringing all the alumni back here, so they can see we’re carrying on their legacy. We’re carrying on their tradition. The way we came out and played was a perfect way to honor them.”
Mesa (2-4) and Basha (1-5) battled fiercely in the early going, with the lead changing hands five times before the teams headed to their locker rooms for halftime.
The big break came toward the end of the third quarter, when Mesa scored a touchdown to go up 28-22 and recovered a fumble on Basha’s next play from scrimmage. A field goal allowed the Jackrabbits to go up nine points heading into the final quarter.
Basha threatened late in the game, getting a touchdown and then forcing Mesa into a 4th-and-3 with less than three minutes remaining.
But a bold fake-punt call saw Mesa pick up 12 yards to retain possession, and the Jackrabbits never gave it up.
“No guts, no glory,” Mesa coach Kapi Sikahema said. “I’ve always been that way. If you want to win, you got to ball up and go.”
– Tyler Killian is a freelance sports writer for MyNewsMesa.com.
Mesa 31, Basha 29
B 3 12 7 7 – 29
M 7 14 10 0 – 31
B – Siffermann 37 FG, 9:48
M – Mox 45 pass from Hanna (Barron kick), 9:23
B – Campbell 3 run (kick no good), 7:19
M – Jackson 76 run (Barron kick), 7:05
B – Siffermann 43 pass from Phelan (kick no good), 2:11
M – Foster 5 pass from Hanna (Barron kick), 0:07
B – Siffermann 81 pass from Phelan (Sifferman kick), 4:52
M – Taylor 55 pass from Hanna (Barron kick), 3:16
M – Barron 20 FG, 0:05
B – Campbell 1 run (Sifferman kick), 4:30
First downs 10 20
Rush-yards 23-101 49-335
Comp-Att-Int 16-33-1 8-13-0
Pass yards 269 206
Total yards 370 541
Pen-yards 6-55 14-125
Fumbles/lost 1-1 1-0
B – Campbell 16-63, Schinker 6-38, Phelan 1-0. M – Jackson 36-341, Hanna 7-(-36), Pulotu 3-32, Taylor 2-(-6), West 1-4.
B – Phelan 16-33-2-269. M – Hanna 8-13-3-206.
B – Siffermann 7-223, Goodman 7-34, Wellbrock 1-7, Massey 1-5. M – Mox 3-103, Foster 2-11, Taylor 1-55, McClendon 1-25, Jackson 1-12.