October 17, 2012 10:05:51 PM
Adam Minichino - email@example.com
MACON -- Keep your head on a swivel.
If you do that, you might see Javancy Jones coming.
As it stands though nine games, the Noxubee County High School senior could stand up as a defensive end and rush the quarterback, or he could put his hand on the ground and take a go at the quarterback from another spot.
If that's not enough, Jones also could be out in coverage against a variety of receivers.
Wyatt Roberts doesn't know where Jones will be at 7 tonight when his Louisville High School Wildcats take on Jones' Noxubee County Tigers in a Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A, Region 4 game.
The winner of tonight's game will win Region 4. For Noxubee County (9-0, 3-0 region), the No. 3 team in The Associated Press' rankings and the No. 1 team in Class 4A, a victory would help it avenge a 14-12 loss to Louisville in Macon in the C Spire Bright Lights Football game. It also would keep the Tigers' dream of a perfect season alive and keep the team on track to Jackson, the site of this year's state title game.
Jones, who has 12 tackles, including three for loss, one quarterback hurry, one pass breakup, and one blocked extra point last week in a 40-13 victory against Houston, is ready to do whatever it takes to help the Tigers stay on track.
"Our fans are hyped for it," Jones said. "Last year we knew we were the better team and we lost on national TV in front of three million people. We know there is going to be another big crowd. We are going to let coach (M.C.) Miller know we coming to bring a bang."
Jones did just that on both sides of the ball last week. In addition to creating havoc all over the field on defense, Jones also caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from DeAngelo Ballard and had a 17-yard run. Up until last week, Jones said his primary role on offense had been as a blocker. He said he had caught a two-point conversion pass and another pass for a touchdown. Last week, though, his touchdown catch was a little tougher. Ballard had to scramble out of pressure and move back across the field to find Jones, who came open in the right corner of the end zone. Ballard's pass just beat a defender closing from the left and allowed Jones to go up and get it just inside the out of bounds line.
"(Ballard) made a heck of a play," Jones said. "I thought he was going to get sacked. ... I told him if he threw it up I was going to come down with it. I saw someone coming and I was prepared for the impact. The only thing I was worried about was holding on to the ball."
The adjustment to offense hasn't been as big as the one Jones has made on defense. Last year, Jones racked up 17 sacks and spent the majority of the time up front rushing the quarterback. This season, coach Tyrone Shorter and defensive coordinator George Richardson are using the 6-foot-2, 207-pound Jones more in coverage because of his athleticism and because they feel Jones is more suited to play linebacker in college.
Jones agrees, and said he has come to like playing linebacker more than playing on the defensive line, even though he doesn't get to hit the quarterback as much. Jones said he worked at linebacker in the summer at seven-on-seven passing camps to prepare for the 2012 regular season. He said that work gave him confidence he could hang with guys who might be a little faster.
"When I am covering, there is more to it than rushing the quarterback, where you're just trying to beat the block" Jones said. "If you're covering someone, the receiver may do one thing, but he may end up doing another. Sacks on our team are so common, but an interception, you catch one of them and it is a whole new thing."
Richardson said film study every week helps him determine the best place for Jones to be on each play. Once he is in place, Richardson will signal in the defense and Jones will relay it to his teammates. That is a challenge, especially for someone who is playing multiple positions, because Richardson said the Tigers use a complex set of hand signals to relay the play.
"He is really me on the field," Richardson said.
Jones believes he is too small to play on the defensive line at the Division I level in college. He feels his progress as a linebacker has helped him attract the attention of schools that also notice he is a fine student. In fact, Jones and teammates Ballard and Charles Hughes are three student-athletes who are in contention for the top student in their graduating class.
Jones said he has been contacted by Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, the University of Arkansas, the University of Memphis, the University of Alabama, Mississippi State University, and the University of Mississippi. He also said he has full scholarship offers from Rust College and from Jackson State University.
Jones said he is weighing his options and wants to find the right school so he can get a good education and get a chance to play football right away.
That decision will have to wait. Tonight, though, Roberts won't have to wait for Jones to make his impact on the game regardless where he lines up.
"I think (Roberts) will remember me from last year," Jones said. "He knows I am athletic enough (to play in coverage). But I might move to end or another position because coach Richardson has me playing in so many places."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.