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Jaguars spring into football

  • Liz Bloom/Jasper County Sun Times - RHHS head coach Jahmaal Nelson instructs his offense during spring practice.
  • Rising senior Jabari Williams tosses the ball around during a break.
  • Liz Bloom/Jasper County Sun Times The wide receiver group works on their speed and agility going though the obstacles.
  • RHHS alum Ashley Mitchell, who plays at Limestone College, is training the offensive line this spring.

Football is back at Ridgeland-Hardeeville High. The Jaguars kicked off their spring season in April and already are counting down the days (93) until they open the season against Thomas Heyward Academy on Aug. 18.

Last season the Jaguars struggled with numbers; initially the RHHS roster consisted of 46 players, but dwindled into the 20’s because of injuries and other circumstances.

But this spring, coach Jahmaal Nelson saw a big bump in numbers. Consistently more than 30 boys have come out to play.

Nelson said the increase allows the team to move players around, develop more offensive options, and even let some kids specialize in positions.

“Our young kids are coming out and ready to play and that’s been a big part of this consistency where they come out everyday for practice,” Nelson said. “I’m proud of our younger guys.”

Nelson’s offense has traditionally been a run-first approach. But in the upcoming season the Jaguars are toying with developing their aerial attack.

Nelson has been rotating four players at quarterback: Melik Frost, Darrel Nelson, Logan Loomis and Ian Strobe.

Darrel Nelson, Loomis, and Strobe are new to the team and each have decent arm strength, Nelson said.

Frost played as a freshman but is developing his arm and learning the position.

Nelson’s running offense requires his quarterback to be a dual threat.

Last year, Jabari Williams was the quarterback. He has the quick feet and speed of a runner, but not the arm strength or vision of a traditional quarterback.

So, bringing in a new and deep crop of potential QB’s will hopefuly allow the offense to run smoother.

“Right now, we haven’t identified one starter, they’re all about the same when it comes to progress,” said Nelson.

But Nelson said the potential quarterbacks have good vision and arm strength, necessary tools to win games in Region 8-AAA.

Williams has moved to wide receiver and cornerback, adding another target with good hands. He’s one of the few rising seniors in the program and evolved into a leader by example for some of the younger players on the field.

“We’re going to win, we’re going to state. We don’t have any quitters this year and we have people willing to work and ready to play,” Williams said.

“I want to improve on everything overall, offense, defense — I got a lot of work to work on. I’ve been eating better and getting in the weight room to get stronger.”

As hard as the Jaguars are working in their skill positions, nothing is more important than the growth of the offensive line. This offseason, RHHS alum Ashley Mitchell, who plays on the offensive line at Limestone College, has trained with the team.

“Renae (Wright) and Myles Pinckney, it’ll be their third year starting for us. Moving them from tackle to guard — trying to get a little bit of speed inside. We’ve got some young kids working in at center and we’re hoping to identify a center out of that group,” Nelson said.

“We’re hoping they’ll come along. They’re still young, even though Renae and Myles have started for three years, overall they’re (the O-Line) still young and having to learn to communicate and work together.”

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