Gray Set To Lead Wildcats In Title Game
As far as unconventional quarterbacks go, Calhoun City's Jo Jo Gray is one of the more successful in the state of Mississippi.
The 5'10", 180 pound junior has led his Calhoun City Wildcats to a 14-1 overall record, a 4-2A Region Title, and an appearance in the 2016 2A State Championship game. The Wildcats don't utilize Gray the way most teams use their quarterback, but their system works.
Mainly used as an extension of Calhoun City's formidable running game, you will rarely see Gray drop back to pass. However, that does not make him any less of a threat for opposing defenses. Through 15 games in 2016, Gray has 820 rushing yards on 130 carries and nine touchdowns. Gray may have an unconventional role at quarterback, but he is just fine with that.
“I love running the football,” Gray said. “I want to be the best I can be at whatever the coach wants us to do. I feel like running the option is my strength.”
Gray has utilized this strength in numerous games this season, including during a 34-6 playoff win over West Bolivar, a game in which he rushed for 124 yards on 14 carries. As with many athletes, however, not every game for Gray is smooth-sailing. Those difficult games prove to be valuable learning experiences for the young quarterback.
“Winona was definitely my worst game,” Gray said. “I threw two picks that game, but I learned that I just need to let the plays develop more and not rush my throws.”
According to Gray, motivation for the Wildcats' successful 2016 season is not lacking.
“I think the key to my success is being a leader on the field,” Gray said. “The success of the team comes from hard work. Everyday at practice, we push each other to be the best we can possibly be, and I think that shows on Friday nights.”
Some of the Wildcats' motivation comes from a common bond they all share: a fallen teammate.
On February 28, 2015, in Big Creek, Mississippi, two high school students passed away due to a car accident. One of those two students was Thomas Leon “Tripp” Macon, III, a football player for Calhoun City High School who wore #68. The 2016 football season would have been his senior year as a Wildcat . It is for this reason that the Wildcats carry a #68 jersey each week to the coin toss and have a “68” decal on the left side of each helmet.
“[The motivation] has a lot to do with Tripp,” Gray said. “Every time we go out on the field, we play our hearts out for him because we know he would do the same for us.”
The last game that Macon played in his high school career was the 2014 2A State Championship Game at Davis Wade Stadium on the campus of Mississippi State University, the same location of this year's title game.
The Wildcats face the Bay Springs Bulldogs today at 3 P.M.