The solution is real simple for the J.Z. George football team as the 2019 season kicks off Friday night against McAdams High School — just win.
The Jaguars suffered through an 0-11 campaign in 2018. Their last win came in the regular season finale of the 2017 season, a 26-6 victory over former district foe Amanda Elzy.
“We’ve just got to win, it’s that simple,” said Jaguar head Coach Ben Burton, who will be on the sidelines for the sixth straight season at J.Z. George. “The season is here. I believe our kids are ready to hit someone else. It’s been a while since we’ve tasted victory around here. We only won two games two years ago, and we didn’t win a game last season. A win will do wonders for these guys.”
J.Z. George’s last winning season was in 2016 as it went 8-5 and made it to the second round of the North 2A playoffs. The Jaguars were only 5-8 in 2015, but managed to get to the second round of the playoffs.
Since school started two weeks ago, Burton has picked up a few more bodies.
“We’re up to 43 or 44 kids. Those new guys had to do some things to be on the team. It gives us some extra people to work with in practice, and who knows, we may find out a few of them will eventually be able to help us out,” Burton said.
“Our kids have to learn how to overcome adversity. We’ve got to move on to the next play and not dwell on the previous play. We’ve had two good weeks of practice. I think they are starting to understand what we are trying to do.”
McAdams is coming off a 5-7 campaign in 2018 as it dropped a 46-18 decision to Biggersville in the first round of the North 1A playoffs. The Bulldogs lost 20-0 to Leake County in a jamboree last week.
“They are going to be bigger than us across the front, but we just have to come out and play football. What’s going to be a positive for us is that we are starting 19 different guys on both sides of the ball. That means we only have three who are going both ways, and we have people behind them who we can plug into the game if we need too. In these early three or four games, that’s going to be a plus,” Burton said. “We had some guys step up and take ownership of their positions. One kid we have watched is Thomas Perry. He won’t start offensively, but he will get some reps at fullback.”
Sophomore Jordun Normal is the expected starter at quarterback. Normal was thrown into the fire last season after a knee injury to Montavis Jenkins sidelined him before the first game. Sophomore Deriaun Townsend and junior Jacob Johnson are slated to join Normal in the backfield at tailback and fullback, respectively.
booted the PAT, and Winona led 7-0.
Wiggins then scored on a 12-yard run, and the PAT failed as the Stars led 13-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The Stars scored once in the second quarter as Hill hit Corley Goss on a 14-yard touchdown pass. The two-point try failed, and Winona Christian led 19-7 at the half.
“I thought we spread the ball around,” Graham said. “I thought our quarterback managed the game. We ran him some and tried to slowly get him into the flow of being the guy at quarterback. He is getting better on a weekly basis and that has to continue.”
The Stars continued to add to their offensive total in the third as Wiggins scored on a 13-yard run, and WCS entered the fourth with a 25-14 lead.
The Stars put the game away in the final quarter when Wiggins scored on a 75-yard run. Hill ran in the two-point conversion, and Winona Christian led 33-14.
Holland Ingram scored the Stars’ last touchdown on an 11-yard run for the final points.
Ethel had 202 yards rushing and 20 yards passing for 222 total yards.
“Defensively, our linebackers as a whole had a good ball game,” Graham said. “We forced five turnovers, and that’s always a big plus. The defense helped give us a short field twice, and we were able to capitalize on that. They flipped the field for us several times and were very physical. It’s a ball game midway through the third when we got a big interception by Hayden Self. That was a game changer.”
Self led the defense with 11 tackles and an interception while Colby Marlow had 10 tackles.
The Stars will open up district play this week as they take on Central Holmes in a key contest.
The Trojans are 2-0 on the season as they beat Amite 36-22 and Deer Creek 34-0.
“They are really good,” Graham said. “They are probably the most diversified team that we have played. They run a lot of formations, and you can’t just lock in on one guy. They throw the vertical ball which we haven’t seen a lot.”
The winner of the game is in the driver’s seat early in division play.
“It’s a big district game,” Graham said. “I just don’t get it. It’s our third game, and you have to play back-to-back division games. I’ve been used to playing those games at the end of the year. Of course, Central Holmes is in the same boat as us.”
Last year, Winona Christian took a 40-14 win against Central Holmes.