County throwdown on tap
Braves look to keep pace in race for Jones County supremacy
Northeast Jones’ offense has managed only one touchdown in its last eight quarters of play.
But that doesn’t cause head coach Keith Braddock to panic, and it doesn’t make South Jones coach Roger Satcher relax going into their annual grudgematch on Friday night.
“Northeast Jones always plays better against us than anyone,” said Satcher, whose squad is coming off its first win of the season and his first as a head coach. “Even when they were beat up like they were last year, with only half their team, they played us hard.”
The Tigers (0-3) have lost their first three games of the season and they have lost three straight in the rivalry with their cross-county rival in Ellisville.
“We’re not a bad team, we have just played three really good teams,” said Braddock, whose troops fell to 2A heavyweights Taylorsville and Collins and 5A rival West Jones.
The Braves (1-2) beat West Harrison 24-6 on Friday night after dropping their opener to Sumrall then lost an overtime heartbreaker at Hancock. Points haven’t been a problem for the Braves, who are averag- ing more than 21.
After taking defending state champ Taylorsville to the wire, 28-25, the Tigers were shut out by West Jones and managed only one second-half TD against Collins last week.
“They do a lot of things that hurt us on offense,” Satcher said, “and their offense is one we haven’t seen this year.”
Quarterback Fifi Magee has accounted for all of the Tigers’ touchdowns this season, throwing for one and running for three. He is 15-for-28 for 247 yards and he has scram- bled 41 times for 63 yards. Tony Barnes gave a boost to the running game last week with a 97-yard performance and Antonio Hayes has been solid in the backfield, too. Freshman kicker Jason Garcia made his first field goal in the 39-10 loss to Collins last week.
Michael Waite and Joey Withers have been the top tacklers, with 15 each, and Mason Smith has two interceptions.
For South, quarterback John Mitchell has 41 carries for 394 yards and Vekelion Campbell has 29 carries for 278 yards, so both are aver- aging 9.6 yards per carry. The passing game has yet to catch up, with only 142 yards, six interceptions and no TDs.
The man who was calling the plays for Northeast Jones last season, Brad Griffin, is now on the South sideline.
“I got tired of coaching against him, so I hired him,” said Satcher, who was defensive coordinator for the Braves last season under head coach Cory Reynolds.
Chad Moses and Campbell lead the Braves’ defense, with 18 and 17 tackles, respectively, and Mark Diers brings a reli- able foot to the kicking duties.
“South Jones is a good team with a great quarterback,” Braddock said, “and they’re very aggressive and physical on defense.”
The Braves won last year’s matchup 41-14 while NEJ suf- fered with injuries to numer- ous key players. South won the previous two seasons 13-9 and 17-7. The Tigers last won in 2014 by a score of 28-13.
“It will take a great effort,”
Braddock said, “but I feel our kids are up to the challenge.” Satcher predicts a close contest, too.
“It’s going to be a barn-burner,” he said. “Everyone should buy a ticket.”