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Player of the Week: West Jones LB/RB Kendorean Russell

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 11:55 PM CDT
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SOSO, Miss. (WDAM) - The West Jones defense hasn’t allowed a point since its 27-21 loss at Madison Central on August 27.

The Mustangs have been a different football since that season-opener and senior Kendorean Russell has been key to the turnaround.

He’s a 4.0 GPA student who is just as sharp on the field.

“His mom and dad have done a really, really good job raising him,” said West Jones head coach Scott Pierson. “On top of that – and I’ve said this numerous times – he is the best, most complete football player I’ve ever coached.”

This is coming from a coach with former player Byron Young on Alabama’s defensive line.

But Russell can play just about anywhere and has for West Jones – scoring touchdowns on both offense and defense in Friday’s 41-7 win over South Jones.

Russell’s embraced his role at linebacker, but loves when he’s called in at the goal line.

“I was originally a running back but when I got here around my ninth grade year I had switched to linebacker,” Russell said. “It was basically just what we needed.”

“If he wasn’t so valuable for us defensively, he’d be probably our best running back,” Pierson said. “On the defensive side of the ball, he never misses a tackle. In open field he always finds a way to make the play and he’s got a knack for being in the right place at the right time.”

A lot of that is instinct – and a lot is preparation.

Russell puts in the time on and off the field because he wants to prove people wrong at the high school level and beyond.

“Just watching film and just going to the basics,” Russell said. “If I get in the open field and I got one-on-one with a guy, just watching his backside hip, just simple things like that.”

“Everybody wants the specks and what I mean by the specks – they want the size, the height, the weight and the speed,” Pierson said. “Well, the tape doesn’t lie. If you put the tape in and watch him play, he makes plays. And ultimately as a coach, you want players on your teams that are going to make plays and that’s what he does.”

The Mustangs have made more plays than their opponents – following up their Class 5A state championship with a 5-1 start to the season.

It’s a group Pierson says just gets it – and knows how to handle both success and failure.

“This team’s got a way of knowing when to focus and bear down and knowing when to relax and get loose,” Pierson said. “Really as a coach I think that’s parts we miss is having the ability to still let them be kids. They play football because they love the game. The winning is bonus.”

“Just coming to work every day, not just punching in a clock,” Russell said. “I go home and my ring is right in the kitchen on the counter and I always look at it and I say, ‘It needs another one.’”

West Jones continues its region 3-5A schedule at Florence on Friday at 7 p.m.

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