Northeast Jones will lean on offense, leadership in 2012 - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Northeast Jones will lean on offense, leadership in 2012

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) -

Last season, Northeast Jones High School averaged around 30 points a game, according to MaxPreps.com. They shouldn't be far below that mark, if any at all, this season. With a three-year starter under center, and two of his favorite targets returning, the Tigers will likely lean on their offense to pick things up from where they left off a season ago.

Senior James Ayers will lead the Tigers attack at quarterback, accompanied by returning starters Tyshon McCurtis and Cameron Breland at wide receiver. Considering he'll only have two starters returning on defense, Head Coach Keith Braddock will look for his offense to sustain drives.

"When we have opportunities to put points on the board, whether it's three or seven, we've got to put points on the board." said Braddock, "We've got to do that. We've got to play field position, and the main thing is those (defensive) guys are going to have to play.

"There's going to be some bloody noses. Until we get out there, get in that fight, and play a few games, there's going to be some growing pains."

As many plays as he's made with his arm and feet, Ayers will now look to make things happen as a leader. "It's my responsibility," he says, "not only as a senior, but because I'm a quarterback, to help lead the team along with the coaches and the rest of the seniors.

"We'll go as far as the leaders of this team take us."

Last year, Ayers and the Tigers finished the regular season with a 9-3 record, and were expected to make a deep run in the playoffs. However, South Pike ended Northeast Jones' season on their own field with a 26-20 upset in the first round of the playoffs. Despite the loss, it's not necessarily something Braddock uses as motivation.

"We talk to the kids very little about last year," shared Braddock, "but we wanted to bring a few positives out and hit on a few negatives. The positive being, we did win a lot of football games, we did compete for a division title...the negative is, we thought we underachieved."

At least during practice, last year's season ending loss seems to be out of sight, out of mind at Northeast Jones. Claps and shouts began the practice on Wednesday, followed by an energized offense versus defense session. Braddock believes that will carry over into the start of the season.

"I think it's going to be a fun year," he said, "It's like I told some people and I told our kids, we may not have the most athletic team we've ever been around, but we feel like we have a good shot to have a good team because they're so bought in. There such good kids, hard-working, do anything you ask-type kids.

"We feel good about the direction we're headed."

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