There is some uncertainty about what to expect from newcomer Jefferson Davis County this Fall but opposing coaches should expect more of the same from this part of the state as Bassfield and Prentiss merge.
“It creates a lot of competition. Right now we are looking for guys to put in the right spot and that gives the kids a chance to push themselves,” Mancuso said. “The transition has been surprisingly smooth. The spring was more of an evaluation process.”
One thing Mancuso is excited about is the Jaguars will have plenty of speed on offense and will be more balanced. Sophomore Lyric Hall will be the starting quarterback. Malik Shorts is back at running back after rushing for 368 yards with nine touchdowns. Receiver Ronald Baker is the go-to guy at wide receiver.
“We’re going to be very multiple,” Mancuso said. “We need to be that way just so we can compete in a very competitive Class 3A South.”
Hazlehurst brings back eight starters on an offense that averaged 394.6 yards per game rushing. Quamead Stewart looks to improve on last season’s 848 yards on 46-82 passing with 12 TD’s. Stewart rushed the ball 99 times for 1,111 yards and 12 TD’s. Also returning will be Tim Steward, who rushed for 1,175 yards on 122 carries and 16 TD’s.
“Having three of your top rushers back, one which was the quarterback, is always a good feeling. Our quarterback has drastically improved,” said Hazlehurst coach Todd McDaniel.
Charleston has reached the 3A state championship each of the last three seasons and have ended up on the wrong end of the scoreboard in all three games. Charleston returns just three starters on both sides of the ball and will be a rebuilding year.
“We lost a big senior class and now we got to rebuild a little bit,” said Charleston coach Scott Martin. “I am excited about this team this year and our goal is to get back to state championship and hopefully win it this time.”
North Panola is coming off a 10-3 season and reached the second round of 3A playoffs. Quarterback Kenneth Jefferson returns after throwing for 2,406 yards with 29 touchdowns and also rushed for 580 yards with eight touchdowns.
Tylertown went 11-1 in 2016 and reached the second round of the playoffs. They bring back three starters on both sides of the ball. Da’Bryan Magee returns at quarterback after tossing for 1,153 yards with 19 touchdowns.
Houston drops down from 4A to 3A and will have an immediate impact. Houston returns 10 starters on offense that is led by quarterback Urriah Shepherd, who tossed for 1,158 yards and rushed for 1,081 yards.
Raleigh will have new pieces and a new coach. Chad Collums comes in after spending three years as head coach at Smithville. Kris Moncrief ran for 1,975 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Forest has been knocked out by Hazlehurst each of the last two seasons. Forest has seven starters back on offense including quarterback Jacob Brooks. Free safety Diwun Black is one of the top juniors in the state.
Kemper County won it all in 3A last year but a lot has changed. Rondarius Gowdy is the leading returning rusher at just over 600 yards. Defense will have to carry the load early and often with seven starters back that’ll be led by linebackers Recardre Moore (113 tackles) and Trajan Tankersley (110 tackles).
The Vikings are working on a streak of seven consecutive playoff appearances. North Pontotoc has averaged 10 wins per season the last four years and could hit that mark again with the return of quarterback Clark Mills. He passed for 2,400 yards with 31 touchdowns last year to help lead the Vikings to the third round of the 3A playoffs.
CLASS 3A RANKINGS
1 Jefferson Davis
4 North Panola
9 Kemper County
10 North Pontotoc
REGION COACHES’ POLLS
1 North Pontotoc
5 Alcorn Central
1 North Panola
2 Water Valley
5 Holly Springs
6 Coahoma AHS
2 Yazoo County
3 J. Z. George
6 Amanda Elzy
3 Choctaw County
5 South Pontotoc
2 Kemper County
3 Southeast Lauderdale
5 Choctaw Central
2 Velma Jackson
4 Crystal Springs
5 St. Andrews
2 Port Gibson
3 Franklin County
4 Wilkinson County
5 Jefferson County
1 Jefferson Davis County
4 West Marion
3A ALL-STATE TEAM
QB Kenneth Jefferson 6’3, 190, Jr, North Panola
AP Kenny Gainwell 5’11, 185, Sr, Yazoo County
RB Kris Moncrief 6’1, 225, Sr, Raleigh
RB Eddie Ivy 5’8, 165, Jr, South Pontotoc
WR Randarios Maxon 5’10, 175, Sr, Ruleville Central
WR Beau Lee 6’4, 195, Jr, Kossuth
WR Jamarvis Echols 6’3, 195, Sr, North Panola
OL Chris Clark 6’3, 265, Sr, North Panola
OL Tristen Glass 6′, 235, Sr, Independence
OL Justin Ducksworth 6’2, 310, Sr, Jefferson Davis County
OL Reed Davis 6’3, 280, Sr, Booneville
OL Marley Cook 6′, 260, Jr, Water Valley
DL Cameron Young 6’4, 270, Sr, Franklin County
DL Deanthony Oneal 6’2, 210, Sr, Kemper County
DL Nathan Pickering 6’5, 250, Jr, Seminary
DL Recardre Moore 6’3, 245, Sr, Kemper County
LB Isaiah Nixon 5’11, 195, Sr, Forest
LB Corley Hooper 6’1, 200, Sr, North Pontotoc
LB Diwun Black 6’3, 200, Jr, Forest
LB Tim Steward 5’10, 195, Sr, Hazlehurst
DB Malik Shorts 6’1, 180, Sr, Jefferson Davis County
DB Keonte Bee 5’9, 160, Sr, Franklin County
DB Jafharis Mckines 5’8, 165, Sr, Jefferson Davis County
DB Dequan Street 6′, 155, Sr, Charleston
PK Logan Rainwater 5’11, 155, Sr, South Pontotoc
P Jamie Ortiz 6′, 245, Sr, Yazoo County