When it comes to LHSAA prep football lore there are not many schools across the state that can equal Jonesboro-Hodge’s legacy. This Friday night one of those schools, #18 seed Kentwood, invades Caldwell-Peacock stadium for a first round Class 2A playoff matchup. The contest will be the first ever between the two. Game time is set for 7:00 pm.
You think JHHS has a great tradition? Try this on for size. Where JHHS has five state titles and three second place finishes, Kentwood (which is probably more known worldwide as the home of Brittany Spears) has 9 state championships and 7 runner-up finishes. That includes three state title game appearances in the last five years.
Jonesboro-Hodge has 19 district championships since 1929 but only one since the year 2000. Kentwood has 19 district titles on their resume also but all but one is since 1996. Over the last 24 years the Kangaroos have claimed 18 district championships.
They are good this year as well. Kentwood finished the regular season with a 4-2 record and a perfect 3-0 slate in district 9-2A. The #18 seeding isn’t a result of their not be successful but because of not being able to play the last two weeks due to Coronavirus precautions which cost them dearly in power points.
“I am really glad we ended up getting to host a playoff game but I couldn’t believe it when I saw that we would be playing Kentwood,” said JHHS head coach Terrance Blankenship. “They aren’t your typical #18 seed. They have a better record and have won their last three games by over 30 points. We have a real test ahead of us.”
As a team the Kangaroos have scored 183 points in six games and given up 113. In their last three games the ‘Roos scored 42, 47, and 42 points against district foes Independence, Varnado and Pine. Their two losses were 31-6 to Class 5A Live Oak and 21-7 to Class 2A Dunham in week two and three of the season.
The 9-2A member is led by 2019 Class 2A Honorable Mention All-Stater Kajuan Magee who excels on both sides of the ball, albeit, in an unlikely combination. On offense the 6”0” 167 pound senior is a threat to score from anywhere on the field from his wide receiver position. He is also just as effective as an undersized defensive end with incredible speed off the ball.
Others to watch for are senior QB/FS Otis Elzy who at 5’10” and 165 is cat quick and slippery as an eel. Kentwood likes to throw quick passes to their extremely talented wideouts and let them make plays. Besides Magee there is also 6’2” 190 pound Cornelius Dyson who can run by or over an opponent, 6’0” senior Shaquil Woolridge and 6’3” sophomore Jermichael Carter. The defense is led by linebackers 6’2”, 180 lb. Ja’Kevis Callahanand 5’9” 230 lb. fire plug Bryce Cooper.
JHHS, who ended the season at 3-3 overall and 1-1 in 1-2A play counters with a rested team of their own having been forced to sit on the sidelines this past week due to Lakeside (Sibley) cancelling the final district 1-2A clash of the year. It is the second game that was on the schedule lost due to the Coronavirus. Two other games (Winnfield, West Ouachita) were cancellation casualties before the season even started.
Junior QB Tydre Malone looks to rebound from his worst game of the year where he completed only 7 of 20 passes and had 3 INT’s. Conversely tailback LaJavion Nichols is coming off his best performance of the year after running roughshod over North Caddo for 164 yards and two TD’s on 19 carries. Justin Calahan who has scored TD’s by rushing, receiving, kickoff return and a 94 yard punt return that set a new all-time school record, Manuel Hernandez, Devontae Mozee and JaMarriyea Lewis also look to come up big for the Tigers.
#15 JHHS (3-3, 1-1) season totals
37-8 Delta Charter (1A)
42-41 Rosepine (2A)
0-36 Mansfield (3A)
26-30 Huntington (4A)
36-0 D’Arbonne Woods (1-2A)
21-44 North Caddo (1-2A)
162 points for
159 points against
JHHS 2019-20 Final Regular Season Stats
Passing: Tydre Malone 46/92 -735 yards, 8 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: LaJavion Nichols 58 rushes / 477 yards, 6 TD’s
Receiving: Justin Calahan 15 catches / 206, 4 TD’s
Tackles: LaJavion Nichols – 52 tackles, 24 assists, 7 tackles for a loss
Longest kickoff return for a score: 70 yards by Justin Calahan vs Delta Charter
Longest punt return for a score: 94 yards by Justin Calahan vs. Huntington (new school record)