Players of the Pine Belt: HHS’ Jaquez Andrews earns expanded running back role

Players of the Pine Belt: HHS' Jaquez Andrews earns expanded running back role

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - For most of his playing career with the Hattiesburg High School football team, Jaquez Andrews could be found in the Tigers’ secondary.

Toward the end of the 2019 season, that changed somewhat, with Andrews still starting at cornerback, but also finding himself in the Tigers’ running back rotation.

Despite being limited to just 22 carries in 10 games, the Tigers thought enough of Andrews’ work to make him one of the workhorses of the HHS backfield this fall.

“Whatever the team needs me to do, I’m willing to do it,” said Andrews, who was named the Tigers’ “Player of the Pine Belt.”

“Coach right now feels my best position is at running back, so I’m happy to do it to help the team.

“I love defense, too, but coach needs me on offense, so that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to run the ball.”

And Andrews earned the bigger role on offense because of the way he runs with the football.

“He’s a violent runner,” HHS coach Tony Vance said. “He’s one of those guys that when he has the ball in his hands, he’s angry, and he runs that way. And he can run.

“He’s put on some muscle and some weight, so I’m anxious to see him with some pads on, but he’s just one of those guys that when he gets the football, he’s got bad intentions.”

The 6-foot, 200-pound Andrews said his and his teammates have intentions of returning the program to its winning ways.

The Tigers, which had posted a 27-2 record during the 2017-18 seasons, slipped to 4-7 last season.

But HHS won three of its final four games, momentum the Tigers are hoping to carry into the 2020 season.

“We finished really strong last year,” Vance said. “We missed the playoffs by just a few points. I thought we got better each and every week, and by the end of the season, we were a much better football team.”

Andrews rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns down the stretch of the season, and he said he hopes to pick up where he left off last season.

“I’m recuperating, looking back at last season, seeing what I did wrong, seeing what the team did wrong,” Andrews said. “Since we’ve been back, we’ve been working harder than ever.

“There were things that we could have done better as individuals, things we could have done better to help teammates out, in the game or off the field. This year, we’re doing a lot better with that as a team going into the season.”

Copyright 2020 WDAM. All rights reserved.