• John Macon Gillespie

Jones, NWR Have "Unfinished Business" in 2018

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For Northwest Rankin a new season will begin in just a few short weeks. But plenty of imprints from last season still remain.

The Cougars will begin the 2018 season as the #7 team in the SES Top 10. That is mostly due to some of the players they had to step up and prove themselves last season that will return this fall. Starting quarterback Jamari Jones is one of those guys, and he notes the driving force behind this year’s team also stems from last season.

“We all just see this as unfinished business,” Jones told SES Mississippi. “These last two seasons we have been put out in the first round. So we just have to get over the hump.”

“We are returning a lot of guys that are ready to go. We have been working really hard. We have all the pieces to the puzzle, but we have to put them together.”

The rising senior signal caller knows what it’s like to have all the ingredients, but to have to figure out how to put them together. Last season, despite being the more veteran option at quarterback, had to watch most of the first three games before earning the starting job.

In his first start of the season, in game four against Warren Central, he proved to be a winner against a defensive-minded division foe. His 291 yards and four touchdowns through the air helped the Cougars capture one of their biggest wins of the season. Jones had thrown for more than 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns by season’s end, all while leading his team to a five big wins.

“I think it was a huge turning point,” Jones stated. “Sitting out the first three games really opened up my eyes.”

“It made me realize I wasn’t working as hard as I thought I was. I just blocked everything out and went to work. It made me a better leader and turned my mindset into working for something instead of wishing for it. And I passed that on to my teammates.”

Still, the sting of not being able to advance beyond the first round of the playoff remains for Jones and his teammates. So this offseason they have worked with that “unfinished business” in mind.

In particular, Jones has attached three critical areas of his game, and he feels he’s seen improvement.

He says that he is bigger and more mobile heading into this season, in hopes that he can be more of a dual-threat weapon. Additionally, he’s sharpened his technique, from his arm down to his feet. Lastly, he’s enhanced his mental awareness for the game, especially as it pertains to reading coverages, this offseason.

Improvement from Jones will certainly help the Cougars chances of chasing the 6A crown this fall, but that won’t be all they need on the offensive side. Star two-way playmaker Jarrian Jones returns this season, as does star tailback Dee Baker and playmakers Montel Gladney and Patrick Lindsey.

“We give all the credit to the o-line. They are great and work hard to protect us. But we have a lot of speed this year, and a lot of weapons. It’ll be hard to stop all of us,” Jones explained. “And then knowing we have a defense that won’t allow many points is comforting also.”

#7 Northwest Rankin kicks off their season against Germantown on Friday, August 17th.

#JohnLukeMcCord #NorthwestRankin

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