Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Donelson Christian Academy (54) Aidan Francis celebrates with (5) Ashton Jones after a touchdown on Thursday, December 2, 2021 at Finley Stadium. Nashville Christian School and Donelson Christian Academy played in the Division II Class A state championship game Thursday.

For more BlueCross Bowl coverage from the Times Free Press, read more here.

Paul Wade has been a part of 11 TSSAA football state championships as a coach, but this year's Division II-A BlueCross Bowl win for Donelson Christian Academy over Nashville Christian has a spot right near the top.

Three years after enduring an 0-10 season as freshmen, the Wildcats' seniors closed their high school football careers with a 31-7 victory, ending a memorable ride with a dominant finish for the ultimate feeling as champions.

"This is unbelievable," senior wide receiver Dayton Sneed said. "It's truly undescribable. You have to feel this. It's pure happiness. Not a lot of people get to feel this for a reason. We were truly the best of the best, and that's crazy looking back at how far we've come. We never gave up."

(READ MORE: Final scores and photos from Thursday's BlueCross Bowl state championship games in Chattanooga)

Photo Gallery

Division II-A Blue Cross Bowl: DCA vs. Nashville Christian

Sneed took the opening kickoff 62 yards, had his third interception of the postseason in as many games, and was on the receiving end of a 58-yard bomb from quarterback Bradford Gaines, who hit him in stride down the left sideline for a 21-0 lead with 4:23 left in the third quarter.

It was Sneed's 17th touchdown catch of a season in which he surpassed 1,300 receiving yards. Both are program records.

DCA (12-1) was tough for Nashville Christian (11-3) to handle — especially the Wildcats' defensive line, led by junior LJ Tolbert, that exploded into the backfield for four sacks. The Wildcats overcame a sluggish start that included throwing two interceptions in the first quarter.

Senior standout Nathan Magalei's 67-yard interception set up the first score from DCA sophomore running back Ashton Jones, who finished with 28 carries for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Jacob Cook, who had a 90-yard kickoff return for a score and finished with seven tackles, was honored as MVP of the game.

"In 2018, we did not think about nights like this," said Wade, who is 11-1 in TSSAA championship games as an assistant or head coach, with four titles as a head coach. "We lived in misery then. We had to make every single thing that was a positive a victory because Friday nights were tough. I can't thank these players and their families enough for hanging in there."

Contact Patrick MacCoon at Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.