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West Jones’ Sley Lyon (33) wraps up Northeast Jones running back Jazaylon Morris in a game earlier this year.

(LL-C file photo)

Tigers looking for first win as they head to face angry Bulldogs

After last season, “injury” is a four-letter word at Northeast Jones. And this week, it’s the f-word. Fifi Magee is out with an ankle injury and Mason Smith — who was knocked out as quarterback early last year and returned as a valuable receiver and defensive back this season — will be taking snaps again.

The Tigers (0-4) are still searching for their first win after Magee was hurt in a heartbreaking loss to South Jones last week and Bay Springs (3-1) is coming off its first loss after falling to 5A West Jones.

“One thing we will not do is overlook Northeast Jones,” Bulldogs’ coach Dan Brady said. “They always play well against us and find a way to get it done.”

Last year, the Tigers got their first victory of an injury-riddled season against Bay Springs, 27-21. The year before, the Tigers won 21-20 and in 2015, the Tigers won 33-26.

NEJ coach Keith Braddock said that Magee will be out for a few weeks with an ankle injury — which is exactly the same prognosis Smith had early last season after suffering a concussion.

Magee was leading the team in offense, with four of its five rushing touchdowns and three TDs on 18-of-31 passing. Jay Jones is the leading receiver with 10 catches for 172 yards and a score and Smith has three catches for 132 yards and a TD. Tony Barnes (26 carries, 157 yards, 1 TD) and Antonio Hayes (36 carries, 139 yards) lead the team in rushing yards. The Tigers are averaging only 14 points per game.

Joey Withers leads the Tigers’ defense with 21 tackles and Michael Waite has 19, including two for a loss. Smith has a team-high two interceptions for a stop squad that’s giving up 32 points per game.

“The kids are responding well,” Braddock said. “They’re still working hard and the attitude is good.”

Jamarius Hosey (68 carries, 473 yards, 7 TDs) and Anson Windham (49 carries, 305 yards, 3 TDs) have been a steady running duo for the ’Dogs and Adrian Cole has been an efficient passer (23-of-38, 355 yards, 3 TDs).

Derrien Lee has been his top target with 14 catches for 263 yards and all three scores.

The team is averaging 34 points per game.

Fred Barnes leads the defense with 37 tackles, Jakharus Page has 3-1/2 sacks and Lee has picked off three passes for a squad that’s giving up 17 points per game.

None of those numbers make Brady relax, though.

“Both teams play hard and they don’t quit,” he said. “It should be a great game. They always play well against us. We’re just looking to get our first win over a Keith Braddock team.”

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