Players of the Pine Belt: Hattiesburg senior linebacker Makel Jones

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 4:14 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Hattiesburg lost its first four games last season but the Tigers grew up late in the year, making the playoffs in the brutal Region 3-5A.

With much experience returning to the lineup, Hattiesburg is optimistic about 2022.

“Me, my brothers – we all have a connection together,” said Hattiesburg senior linebacker Makel Jones.

The Hattiesburg Tigers feel like they have their own version of the purple people eaters with eight returning starters on defense including Jones.

“[Jones]’s a guy that’s learned over the years,” said Hattiesburg head coach Tony Vance. “He’s taken his bumps and bruises but he’s bounced right back up. He’s a physical specimen, utility knife for us on defense. We’re able to do some different things with him on defense and he’s been solid for us ever since he’s been in our program.”

And Jones is always thinking one step ahead.

He’s committed to the Naval Academy to play football and study electrical engineering.

“After college I can be successful as well,” Jones said. “Some people just go to college, hopefully go to the NFL but some don’t. I can either go to the NFL or go serve as well.”

Jones is a very self-motivated young man but he gets plenty of push from his twin brother Malek, too.

And not just on the field – Makel is committed to the Navy while Malek is at basic training with the Army.

“We try to compete with each other,” Jones said. “We go home afterwards and ask our mom who did better? Try to compete the next game and practice harder.”

Vance said there’s been plenty of hard practices this summer as the Tigers gear up for another season – hoping to build off last year’s playoff experience.

“The biggest thing I learned about this team last year had to be the first round playoff game against Picayune,” Vance said. “We go into that game without a quarterback. We don’t have a guy that’s taken a snap all year going into a playoff game. They came together as a team and I think that said to me a lot about what we had coming back this year. There’s very much reason to be optimistic about this year’s football team.”

Here’s a look at Hattiesburg’s 2022 schedule:

  • 8/27 – vs. Petal – 7:30 p.m.
  • 9/2 – vs. Ocean Springs – 7:30 p.m.
  • 9/9 – at Oak Grove – 7:30 p.m.
  • 9/16 – at Meridian – 7:30 p.m.
  • 9/23 – at Natchez* – 7:30 p.m.
  • 9/30 – vs. South Jones* – 7:30 p.m.
  • 10/7 – at Florence* – 7 p.m.
  • 10/14 – vs. Brookhaven* – 7 p.m.
  • 10/21 – vs. Wayne County* – 7 p.m.
  • 10/28 – at West Jones* – 7 p.m.
  • 11/5 – vs. Laurel* – 7 p.m.

*Indicates Region 3-5A opponent

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