Jones be­lieves Jack­ets fo­cused for spring drills

Starkville Daily News - - SPORTS - By ROB­BIE FAULK sports@starkvilledai­lynews.com

Shortly af­ter Chris Jones and his team walked off of the field at Vaught-Hem­ing­way Sta­dium in Ox­ford last De­cem­ber 1, the work was be­gin­ning to get back too the state cham­pi­onship game.

The Yel­low­jack­ets came up just short of se­cur­ing an­other tro­phy for the foot­ball com­plex when Pearl was able to get a game-win­ning touch­down in the fi­nal minute for a 21-17 vic­tory. Jones de­clared that night that his team would be back and the off­sea­son has been built around that state­ment.

“I think one of the main things is that, com­ing off that loss, it made us a bet­ter team,” Jones said. “We’re hun­grier and more fo­cused on the at­ten­tion to de­tail on the lit­tle things that got us beat. We want to be high en­ergy in work­outs. We’re try­ing to set the stan­dard high each day.”

That’s been the en­ergy that the Jack­ets have brought in the weight room for the last sev­eral months and it’s about to con­tinue on the prac­tice field today. The start of spring prac­tice has ar­rived for a team that has been ea­ger to get back to a place that it has been fa­mil­iar.

It helps that they have that hunger to avenge the tough loss head­ing into the spring, but it also helps that this is year two for Jones.

The Jack­ets are fa­mil­iar with what the coach and his staff ex­pect out of them on a daily ba­sis. He also has a large group of players that have been in the pro­gram now and are lead­ing the way for the younger group.

“I think that our spring will be good be­ing year two,” Jones said. “All of the kids have bought into the process. Ev­ery­one knows what to ex­pect. Year one is al­ways the eval­u­a­tion year and I feel like we ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions last year, but year two will be bet­ter. The kids un­der­stand what we’re try­ing to ac­com­plish.”

Jones, who was se­lected the head coach for the North team in the Be­nard Black­well All-Star game to take place af­ter the sea­son, said that the team’s health is good out­side of one ma­jor in­jury.

Se­nior safety Be­nard Thomas tore his an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment in his knee and just had a suc­cess­ful surgery last week.

“We were ex­pect­ing big things from him so that’s a tough blow for us and he’s in our thoughts,” Jones said. “He’s got sev­eral of­fers for the next level so if he doesn’t get a lot of time with us this year, it isn’t the end. We hope to have him back in Oc­to­ber for the stretch run. Ev­ery­body else will be good to go. It’s been a good off­sea­son other than that one ma­jor in­jury.”

SHS will start today at 2:30 p.m. on the prac­tice fields and go through the se­cond week in May. The Jack­ets cul­mi­nate their spring by host­ing a 16team jam­boree at Yel­low­jacket Sta­dium. The event was orig­i­nally sched­uled to take place at Mis­sis­sippi State’s Davis Wade Sta­dium, but a con­flict with some work on the sta­dium grounds in­ter­fered.

The two-day event on May 11-12 will in­clude Louisville, Columbus, Nox­ubee County, White­haven (Tenn.) and more.

(Photo by Lo­gan Kirk­land, SDN)

Starkville High School foot­ball coach Chris Jones said there is a high stan­dard set for spring prac­tice.

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