Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, once said: “There is nothing new under the sun.” He must have been well acquainted with cliches.
Though they’re used quite often in sports, cliches, like the one Northeast Jones (0-5) is rehashing this week are still true.
“We buried season one,” said Tigers head football coach Keith Braddock regarding the teams’ non-district portion of their schedule. “It’s the only thing we do. Everyone is 0-0. It is a cliches, but its true.
“Sure, our record may be different if we played a softer schedule. But we didn’t. We can let our tough [non-district] schedule benefit us, or we can let it hurt us.”
Through the first six weeks, Northeast Jones has played three of the best 2A schools in the South, including 6-0 Taylorsville, who won the MHSAA Class 2A title last year, 4-1 Collins, who advanced to the 2A South State Championship and 4-2 Bay Springs, who lost to Collin in the round before South State.
Then there’s 5A West Jones (4-1) and South Jones (3-3).
A similar thing happened last year, except by Week 7 Northeast Jones was laden with injuries. This year injuries haven’t been as prevalent, but they’ve played a significant part, especially at quarterback. Senior Javier (Fafa) Magee could return to the playing field in some manner Friday night as the Tigers begin Region 5-4A in The Jungle vs. Northeast Lauderdale. Magee suffered a severe ankle sprain against South Jones in Week 4.
“Magee is day-to-day,” said Braddock. “I don’t know yet on his condition as far as if he’ll return. He’s hobbled around [practice on Monday]. I don’t know how that is going to go. I know that if he plays, he won’t be at 100 percent.”
Northeast Jones is coming off a bye week. Some emphasis was put on this week’s game vs. NEL last week at practice. Overall, the Tigers are about fixing themselves and working on the variables they can control.
“If we can protect the ball and not let them have cheap scores, I think we’ll give ourselves a chance,” said Braddock. “It will be a good game.”
Last year’s contest was extremely competitive. NEL beat NEJ by one point in front of a home crowd, 33-32.
“It’s always interesting when we play them,” Braddock stated, “whether it be a high scoring game or a lopsided. It’s always been an interesting game between us two, and I can’t tell you exactly why.
“We thought going in last year that No. 2 was the guy we needed to stop and we tried to do that. He still managed to make plays. They got us on a fake punt, and that got them going. We got into a scoring match with them last year, and hopefully, that won’t be the case this year. Hopefully, we can slow their offense down a bit more.”
Averaging just above 32 points a game, the ground game of Northeast Lauderdale will be the concern for Northeast Jones. Senior Kam Hulin and junior Michael McClinton lead the way.
“Northeast Lauderdale is big,” said Braddock. “They’ve always been that way. And they are athletic. The quarterback [Hulin] makes them go. He is a playing machine and a good player.
“They are also big on the offensive and defensive lines. They started off hot, but they’ve gotten beat the last couple of times. They too had an off week last week. And I’ve sure they’ll get things fixed too. It should be a good game.”
Antonio Hayes, Tony Barnes and Jazalyon Morris all have rushed for over 100 yards for NEJ. Magee, who has sat out the last several weeks has 99 rushing yards and has passed for over 300.
Kickoff Friday night in The Jungle is scheduled for 7 p.m.