Pearl River football should show dramatic Improvement in 2014

Coach Jones            POPLARVILLE --- Second-year Pearl River Wildcat head coach William Jones says his squad should show dramatic improvement in 2014.
            Coming off a lack-luster 4-5 campaign during his inaugural season a year ago, Jones touted his newest recruiting class, a “spirited” spring practice and workhorse summer workout program, as well as a host of talented returning sophomores that will help propel the Wildcats back into the upper echelon of the Mississippi Juco ranks.
            “If a hard work ethic is any indication, we’ll definitely be an improved team,” said Jones, who served as defensive coordinator at PRCC from 2001 through 2007 before heading to East Mississippi CC for five seasons. “I can’t say enough about how dedicated our guys have been during the spring and summer.”
            Offensively, The River returns two of the league’s top O-lineman in Cyrus Ekugwum (6-4, 320) and Derrick Isaac (6-5, 315) that will help open holes for premier running back Darrell Robinson (5-10, 200), who rushed for a team-high 706 yards as a freshman in 2013 and led the squad in scoring with eight TDs (six rush, two receiving). The sophomore speedster set the MHSAA scoring record with 52 touchdowns as a senior at Noxubee County High in Macon in 2012.
            “There’s a lot on Darrell’s shoulders this year, but he’ll be complimented by a pair of freshmen in Quantrell Reddix (6-3, 214, D’Iberville High signee) and Jerome Keys (5-10, 200, Bassfield High signee) ,” Jones added. “Those two are inexperienced at this level, but will see lots of playing time.”
                        Other sophomore offensive lineman include Terrence Carter (6-3, 315) of Clinton High, Ryan Rainey (6-2, 285) of Harrison Central High, and Nick Thomas (6-4, 315), a Northwest Mississippi CC transfer out of DeSoto Central High, while  freshman Jordan Harris (6-6, 340), a Mississippi State transfer who prepped at Stephenson High in Atlanta, Ga., will add punch to the up-front unit. Other freshmen J.C. Caldwell (6-0, 260) of D’Iberville High, Allen Winford (6-5, 285) out of Presbyterian Christian High, and Keefa Nelson (6-2, 290) of Brookhaven High will provide much-needed depth.
            Towering tight end Rusty Clark (6-7, 250) of Harrison Central High returns to the line up, whom Jones says is one of the very best in the state at the position.
            Independence CC (Kan.) transfer Kaylon Cooper (6-2, 220) out of North Little Rock High (Ark.) seems to have a firm hold on the quarterback spot after an outstanding spring practice. While playing in the touted Jayhawk Conference in 2012, Cooper, who sat out the 2013 season, was tutored under second-year PRCC offensive coordinator Scott Anderson.
            Two freshmen QBs have shown lots of promise in Carter Hankins (6-3, 210), who guided Forrest County AHS to a Class 4A state title last fall, and Vonnie Howard II (6-4, 205) out of Murrah High in Jackson.
            The receiving corps is headed by returning All-Region 23 performer Charles Ducksworth of Mize High, who had 13 catches for 178 yards and a touchdown last year. The sophomore is equally talented as a return man, averaging 44 yards on six kickoff returns as a freshman, including a 98-yarder for a TD against Copiah-Lincoln.
            “Charles is one of those players that has the ‘it’ factor,” Jones explained. “He can take it all the way any time he touches the ball…as a receiver or a returner. We’re expecting a great year from him.”
            Former Sumrall High receiving tandem --- cousins Austin (6-2, 190) and Devontea Watts (6-0, 175) --- are back. The duo accumulated over a combined 3,000 yards and 200 catches as seniors under SHS head coach Shannon White in 2012. Good things are also expected from freshmen WRs Corey Husband (6-4, 190), a former FCAHS standout, and Ambrose Ollie (6-2, 180) out of Forest Hill High, but Jones says the biggest surprise is former Wildcat hoops standout Bryant Magee (6-3, 185) of West Marion High.
            “Bryant has all the tools to be a great wide receiver,” he said. “He hasn’t played football since high school, but was a highly-recruited player out of West Marion in both sports. He chose the basketball route for two years, but wanted to get back on the gridiron and we couldn’t be more excited about having him on board.”
            The defensive front will be anchored by returning starting tackle Courtney Miggens (6-5, 285) out of Miller Grove High in Atlanta, Ga., while sophomore tackle Tchaikovsky Catlett (6-1, 300) of Moss Point High and ends Alvonte Bell (6-6, 255) out of Everglade High in Miramar, Fla., and Carlton Burger (6-3, 235) of Petal High also return after impressive freshman seasons. Michigan State transfer Noah Jones (6-3, 285) out of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., is an impressive newcomer to the defense, while redshirt freshman Victor Andrews (6-1, 300) of Oak Grove High should be vying for starting time.
            The linebacking crew is impressive, headlined by returning starter at OLB Richard Thomas (6-0, 225) of West Lauderdale High, while Stacy Warren (6-0, 215), the former starting quarterback at Pascagoula High, plays the opposite side to Thomas.
            “Both Richard and Stacey showed great improvement over the course of the spring and summer workouts,” said Jones, who also coaches the linebacking corps.
            Freshman Kenton Cooley (6-0, 205) of Laurel High could be a huge asset to the linebacking unit.
            “Kenton is a talented, hard-hitting guy and he backed that up when he was named the defensive MVP in this year’s Bernard Blackwell All-Star game,” said Jones. “Of course, he’s jumping up to a whole different level, but he has the work ethic to develop quickly.”
            In the middle will be sophomore Antron Watts (6-0, 235) of East Marion High, who possesses all the skills to be a standout backer.
            Jones says the Wildcat secondary has the most experience returning. Free safety Quartavius Smith (6-2, 190) of McComb High returns and is regarded as one of the best DBs in the league, according to Jones, while strong safety Taron Divens (6-1, 190) of McComb High and cornerbacks Xavier Grindle (6-0, 200) of East Marion High, Jamarl Holloway (6-0, 185) of Gautier High, and Antwon Mitchell (5-11, 180) of Moss Point High return for sophomore campaigns.
            Impressive freshmen DBs Deandre Anderson (5-8, 180) of Picayune High, Laquan Johnson (6-0, 190) of Gautier High, Gerald McGee (6-2.205) of Gautier High, Tarvarious Moore (6-2, 185) of Quitman High, and Stevie Scott (6-1, 180) of Perry Central High will be gunning for starting time at either safety or corner.
            Returning long snapper Bobbie Daggett (5-11, 210) of Pascagoula High headlines the special teams, while two freshmen will handle the kicking duties in punter Cody Mikell (6-1, 200) of Poplarville High and placekicker Javan Detto (5-10, 170) of Pearl River Central High.
            Jones’ staff of assistants include two newcomers in offensive line coach and associate head coach Keeath Magee, a Mt. Olive native who returns to the Magnolia State after a lengthy stint in the Texas prep league, and defensive line coach Travis Johnson, a former All-American and All-ACC down lineman at Florida State who went on the play nine seasons in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers and Houston Texans.
            Offensive coordinator Scott Anderson, a former Georgia Tech Yellowjacket, and defensive coordinator Willie Mack Garza, a former Tennessee and Southern Cal DB coach with over 15 years experience on the NCAA Division I level, return for a second season, as does wide receivers coach and director of football operations Derrick Crudup, an alum quarterback with the Miami Hurricanes.
            PRCC kicks off its 2014 season Thursday, Aug. 28, when MACJC non-division foe Coahoma visits Dobie Holden Stadium for a 7 p.m. battle.
 
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PEARL RIVER HEAD COACH WILLIAM JONES’
PREDICTED SOUTH DIVISION RANKINGS
 
1          Copiah-Lincoln
2          Mississippi Gulf Coast
3          Jones County
4          Hinds
5          Southwest Mississippi
6          East Central
 
PEARL RIVER’S TOP OVERALL RETURNING PLAYERS
1          OL Cyrus Ekugwum (6-4, 320)
2          FS Quartavius Smith (6-2,190)
3          RB Darrell Robinson (5-10, 200)
4          TE Rusty Clark (6-7, 255)
5          DT Courtney Miggens (6-5,285)
 
PEARL RIVER’S NEXT TOP FIVE RETURNING PLAYERS
1          WR-KR Charles Ducksworth (5-10, 185)
2          CB Xavier Grindle (6-0, 200)
3          DE Alvonte Bell (6-6, 255)
4          OLB Richard Thomas (6-0, 225)
5          OT Derrick Isaac (6-5, 315)
 

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