25 Teams in 25 Days

George County football to rely on stingy defense as it moves into tough Region 3-6A

2017 George County football team.
2017 George County football team. amccoy@sunherald.com

George County raced down the field on offense last year behind a talented quarterback and two of the state's best receivers, but you can expect a new look in Lucedale this season.

The quarterback, LaRaymond Spivery, will be playing basketball at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College this season and the two receivers, Dwan Williams and Tyrese Fryfogle, have moved on to Pearl River Community College and the University of Indiana.

The 2017 campaign will serve as a new day for George County football with the defense likely setting the tone. Head coach Matt Caldwell, who is in his second season at George County, will have only one returning starter on offense and six on defense.

The defensive side of the ball won't be lacking in size or talent.

He's only a sophomore, but 6-foot-3, 290-pound nose guard McKinnley Jackson is on pace to have an impressive season after picking up 60 tackles, including 30 for negative yardage, a year ago.

Jackson, who picked up an offer from Louisiana-Lafayette before he played a down of high school football, has become one of the top sophomore recruits in the nation with offers from Alabama, LSU, Florida State, Mississippi State, Auburn, Ole Miss, Memphis and Southern Miss.

“He has a great attitude and he's one of the hardest working kids we've got,” Caldwell said. “I think he's got a chance to be real special.”

McKinnley will fill a variety of roles and he showed last season that he can even carry the ball on offense.

“We're going to move him around, but his first position is going to be the nose,” Caldwell said. “We think he can create the most havoc there. He's in the middle of the defense.”

Jackson will be joined on the defensive line by junior Chandler Hall, junior Cade Turner, junior Kody McRaney, sophomore Austin Rummell and junior Drew Rose.

Jackson is far from the only talented player on defense. Senior linebacker Austin Walker should be the leader of his group after putting up 92 tackles a year ago. He will be joined at linebacker by senior West Breland, junior Logan Howell, senior Dale Pardue and junior Kody McRaney.

“We have the experience to be a good linebacking crew,” Caldwell said. “We have good ole tough linebackers that like contact.”

George County returns a pair of starters in the secondary in senior cornerback Jamar Jackson and junior free safety Dylan Lawrence.

Jonovan Jackson, a talented sophomore transfer from Moss Point, is on track to be the other corner while sophomore Ted Odom and sophomore Jamal Lawrence are battling to be the starter at strong safety.

Senior running back Jorden Ladner is the only returning starter on offense after catching 19 passes for 97 yards and running 22 times for 79 yards and one score a year ago.

The new quarterback will be senior Jakob Green, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound senior, who will lead an offense that will mostly run a triple-option scheme.

“He's a gritty kid, a great leader,” Green said. “He's got all the intangibles you need your quarterback to have. He runs well, has a good arm. We have complete confidence in Jakob. I think he's going to be a good one for us.”

George County will be working with a deep rotation at running back that includes Ladner, junior Javion Riley, junior Luke Thompson, senior Garrett White, Jamar Jackson and junior Jackson Slay.

Three underclassmen should serve as the primary receivers – Jonavan Jackson, junior Treontae Jackson and sophomore Aaron Ward.

George County is replacing all five starters on the offensive line. Junior offensive tackle Kyle Nelson (6-2, 215), senior guard Henry Penton (6-3, 255), senior center Wyatt Chipley (6-2, 235), senior guard Will Chisolm (6-2, 270) and senior tackle Quinn Shoemaker (6-1, 245) will likely be the starters. Freshman Derek Howell (6-0, 245) is also in the mix at center.

Along with replacing every starter on offense, George County will be moving into a difficult Region 3-6A, which includes programs like Brandon, Meridian, Oak Grove, Pearl, and Petal.

“It's like the SEC West of high school football,” Caldwell said. “You look up and Pearl is the No. 1 team in the state. Meridian has as much talent as anybody in the state. Petal has got one of the best head coaches in the state (Marcus Broyles). Brandon is always in the mix and Oak Grove, they were really young so they have everybody coming back.”

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee

George County schedule

Aug. 18: at Gulfport

Aug. 25: at Greene County

Sept. 1: East Central

Sept. 8: Ocean Springs

Sept. 15: at Harrison Central

Sept. 22: Oak Grove

Sept. 29: at Brandon

Oct. 6: Jim Hill

Oct. 13: Pearl

Oct. 20: at Terry

Oct. 27: Petal

Nov. 2: at Meridian

George County

1 Treonte Jackson

2 Jorden Ladner

3 Jonovan Jackson

4 Dylan Lawrence

5 Jamar Jackson

6 Ted Odom

8 Jakob Green

9 Kamran Jones

10 Aaron Ward

12 Jamal Lawrence

13 Ja'vion Riley

14 Luke Thompson

15 Doc Mason

16 Austin Hillman

17 Max Noblett

18 Jermaine Lawrence

19 Austin Walker

20 Paul Adams

22 Addonis Dickey

23 Ethan Collins

24 Jordan Young

25 Tajiri Washington

26 Jawaylon Anderson

27 Jackson Slay

28 Jonheim Nix

29 Mason Williams

30 Drue LaRousse

31 Matt Lebourhis

32 Mason Lebourhis

34 Laine Evans

35 Garrett White

36 Dale Pardue

37 Andrew Scott

38 Jonathan Havard

39 Noah Watson

40 Drew Rose

41 Trent Pitts

42 James Terry

43 Weston Breland

44 McKinnley Jackson

46 Ryan Steede

48 Rucker Brannon

49 Jay Scarbrough

50 Will Milstead

52 Shawn Gurley

53 Haden Gentry

54 Austin Rummel

55 Logan Howell

56 Quinn Shoemaker

57 Derek Howell

58 Tate Cochran

59 Destyn Cauley

60 Avery Watkins

61 Kyle Nelson

62 Garrett Watson

63 Cade Turner

64 Caleb Hately

68 Abe Havard

69 Connor Daley

70 Will Chisholm

71 Michael Ladnier

72 Kody McCraney

73 Wyatt Chipley

74 Chandler Hall

76 Jackson Howell

78 Brenton McKinnell

79 Henry Penton

80 Delynn Livingston

81 Elliott Bradley

82 Hunter Middleton

83 Cade Caldwell

84 Carson Davis

86 Landon Rainey

87 Judson Godfrey

88 Conner Blackwell

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