Defending 2A champ to invade ‘TheJungle’

The Tigers will get a tough test to kick off the 2018 season.

They will host defending 2A state champion Taylorsville in The Jungle on Friday night.

“It will be a huge challenge, but I feel our kids will be ready,” Northeast Jones coach Keith Braddock said. “Taylorsville is extremely athletic and well-coached.” The Tartars feature star sophomore quarterback Ty Keyes, who torched the Tigers for 300 yards last year in his varsity debut, a 29-19 victory.

That was the 2017 season-opener for the Tigers, but they had already suffered serious losses before the season and before the final horn sounded in the opener, losing their top returning defensive player and offensive player to injuries.

But all of that is behind them now, with Fifi Magee calling the signals and experienced skill players around him, including receivers Jay Jones and Mason Smith and running backs Tony Barnes and Antonio Hayes. Barnes missed most of last season because of a concussion.

“I like our attitude and effort thus far,” Braddock said.

Defensive end Joi Jones leads an inexperienced defense against the Tartars, who averaged 36.8 points per game and finished 15-1 last season. “They’re very big and physical,” Braddock said. “They’ve got lots of playmakers on offense and on the defensive side of the ball.”

Keyes went on to complete 66 percent of his passes last season, throwing for more than 4,500 yards, 45 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. He also ran for 543 yards and eight more scores.

The Tartars return eight on defense and only four on offense.

“I’m pleased with our kids’ willingness to come to work every day and try to better themselves for the betterment of the team,” Evans said, adding that he will play plenty of kids early to try to develop some depth. 

“Northeast Jones is always a well-coached, disciplined team,” he said. “Coach Braddock always has his teams well prepared. They have four really good play- makers on offense that will be a big concern for our defense.”

Evans said he doesn’t remember the Tartars ever winning at The Jungle.

“Going into NEJ is a tough place to play,” he said. “Our players and coaches are excited about the opportunity to go play a good football team to open the year and see where we are with this early test.”

The defense looked especially tough in last week’s jamboree against Stinger, according to reports.

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