By Shawn Wansley
Jones College Sports Information Director
ELLISVILLE – Coming off its most complete game of the season, the No. 12 Jones Bobcats will step out of MACJC South Division play this week.
After crushing Pearl River 49-6 last week, the Bobcats will host Northeast Mississippi at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The Bobcats enter the game at 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the division. Northeast, after a 20-13 loss to Mississippi Delta last week, is 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the MACJC North Division.
Even though this is not a division game, Jones head coach Steve Buckley said the Bobcats must be ready to play.
"It's the next game on the schedule and we are 2/3 of the way finished (with the regular season)," he said. "It is very important that we build on what we have been doing the last couple of weeks. We need to come out and execute and worry about Jones and not worry about anybody else.
"We are playing a lot of kids and everybody is playing. It's time for the freshmen to not be freshmen be anymore."
Northeast owns wins over Southwest (19-13 in overtime), Coahoma (26-17) and Itawamba (14-12). Their other losses have been to Copiah-Lincoln (14-7) and Holmes (14-6).
Buckley said the numbers show that the Tigers are good on defense.
"You look at them statistically and defensively, they are just giving up just over 14 points a game," he said. "They are very physical on defense and do not give up many big plays. They basically have been in every game they have played. They are a good football team.
"Offensively, they are a lot like everybody in the league in that they have struggled at times, but they've got players. We have to be ready to play."
On offense, the Tigers are led by quarterback Jack Mangel, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound freshman from Athens, Georgia; running back Shawn Dalton Weatherbee, a 5-foot-11, 215-pound freshman from Thrasher; and wide receiver Xavier Malone, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound sophomore from Lake Cormorant.
On defense, the leading tacklers are linebackers Terry Joiner, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound freshman from Noxubee County, and Jamarcus Smith, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound freshman from Saltillo. Cedric Hillsman, a 6-foot, 245-pound defensive lineman from Fort Valley, Georgia, leads the Tigers in sacks.
Last week, Jones did little wrong in its rout of Pearl River.
The Bobcats scored touchdowns on its first seven possessions and outgained Pearl River, 448-100 in total yards on offense.
Jones quarterback Fred Barnum (Warren Central) was 14-of-21 through the air for 263 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Running back Ladamian Webb (Opelika, Alabama) carried 15 times for 91 yards and a score and running back Kalyn Grandberry (Memphis, Tennessee) rushed 17 times for 79 yards and three touchdowns.
Natorian Watts (Petal) had four catches for 81 yards and a score, Webb had two receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown and Jacory Rankin (Port Gibson) had two catches for 63 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Rakeim Ashford (Choctaw County), DeLawrence Butler (Clinton) and Johnny Hudson (Atlanta, Georgia) had five tackles each. Linebacker Daylen Gill (Louisville) had four tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Lineman James Williams (Jackson Callaway) had two tackles and 1.5 TFLs. Cornerback Lakevias Daniel (Louisville) had a pass interception.
The Bobcats finished with eight TFLs, three pass breakups and an interception.
Buckley said the Bobcats performed well all around.
"I thought we executed so much better on the offensive side of the ball," he said. "Defensively, we got '3 and outs' which was very important. We were able to get off the field. The one drive they did have was because of a mental mistake when we got into the neutral zone on a third and 4 and we allowed them to establish a drive there.
"I just thought we were very sound in all three phases Saturday."
The Bobcats had four pass plays over 20 yards vs. the Wildcats, including a 64-yard touchdown pass to Webb and a 56-yard strike to Rankin.
"We had some explosive plays offensively, which we have been missing," Buckley said. "I thought up front we did a great job of getting a hat on a hat. I thought we had a good scheme against them and I thought both running backs ran very well.
"You take the neutral zone infraction away and we pitch a shutout against them, I believe. Again, it's just young players that need to keep maturing. I saw some maturing Saturday, but I think we can be a really good football team when our young kids mature.'
It will be a short turnaround for the Bobcats this week. Jones played on Saturday and must be ready to play in just five days. Northeast is in the same boat, having played at Mississippi Delta on Saturday.
Buckley hopes the forecast of cooler temperatures will come to fruition by Thursday evening.
"We keep waiting on this cool weather to get here, but I don't think it's coming," he said. "But playing on Thursday is something we just have to handle. Northeast played on Saturday and we played on Saturday, so it's just adjust and adapt and that's all you can do. Last week was a very long week for us after we had played on Thursday. But I thought our kids handled it the right way and I think they will handle this short week the right way.
"We just have to be smart as coaches and get them on and off the practice field and make sure our legs are there and be ready to play."
Currently in division play, top-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast and East Central are 3-0 and are tied for the top spot. They play each other this week. Jones and No. 6 Hinds each have a division loss and Co-Lin has two division losses.
Nationally, top-ranked Hutchinson (Kansas), No. 3 East Mississippi and No. 4 Butler (Kansas) all lost last week and dropped in the rankings.
Buckley said it's wide open both on a state and national level this season.
"I said after the Coahoma game (an 18-10 Jones loss in the season opener) that it was going to be a crazy year," he said. "The good thing about it is that we control our own self. We need to worry about us and get ready to play another football game."
The Bobcats resume division play next week with a 3 p.m. game on Oct. 19 at Copiah-Lincoln.
Northeast hosts Northwest on Oct. 17.
Miss. Gulf Coast 3-0 6-0
East Central 3-0 4-2
Jones College 3-1 4-2
Hinds 2-1 5-1
Copiah-Lincoln 1-2 3-3
Pearl River 0-4 1-5
Southwest 0-4 0-6
Northwest 2-1 5-1
East Mississippi 2-1 4-2
Holmes 2-1 2-4
Northeast 2-2 3-3
Itawamba 2-2 2-4
Mississippi Delta 2-2 2-4
Coahoma 0-3 1-5
Last week's results
Jones 49, Pearl River 6
East Central 23, Copiah-Lincoln 18
Itawamba 27, Hinds 21
Hinds 54, Coahoma 26
Northwest 56, East Mississippi 36
Miss. Gulf Coast 55, Southwest 24
Mississippi Delta 20, Northeast 13
Oct. 10 games
Northeast at Jones, 7 p.m.
Copiah-Lincoln at Hinds, 6:30 p.m.
Mississippi Gulf Coast at East Central, 6:30 p.m.
East Mississippi at Holmes, 6:30 p.m.
Mississippi Delta at Itawamba, 6:30 p.m.
Coahoma at Northwest, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 games
Southwest at Pearl River, 2 p.m.