(Andy Bryson/Gridiron Football)
Jonesboro-Hodge High School is located deep in the pinny woods of north Louisiana. The towns of Jonesboro and Hodge are small logging towns with a papermill. Jonesboro-Hodge is a class 2A powerhouse program ran by one of the top high school coaches in the state, Terrance Blankenship.
“Coach Blank” has such compassion for this game, as well as, to the success of his players. During the 2021 season, coach Blank led his team to an 11-3 record with this final loss in the LHSAA state semi-finals to the eventual state champions Amite Warriors. Even through the Tigers lost several Senior players to graduation, I look for a repeat with a deep run in the class 2A playoffs in 2022 as Coach Blank has several star players returning and a plethora of young talent in the wings.
Class or 2024 LB Xavier Atkins is nothing short of amazing to watch. He is a sideline-to- sideline backer that has garnished the attention of Power 5 schools all over the country. He is currently one of the top Linebackers in the 2024 class. He is a hard-hitting downhill player that every college coach wants to sign.
Class of 2023 DE Peyton Smith, like his teammate is a hard hitting, strong defensive lineman. At 6’4″ and 252 lbs. Payton is an unstoppable force. He overpowers linemen at the base of attack and makes stops. He punishes running backs for wanting to run to his side of the line.” I’m a gritty, hard-nosed player. I’ll never be out worked and always will have the largest motor on the field.”
Class of 2023 DT Cartavious Waters is not the biggest payer on the Tiger defense, but one of the hardest workers. I like his first step and his strength. He uses his height as his advantage against bigger defenders by using his technique and pad height. He is a strong tackle and has good handwork in the trenches.
Class of 2023 OL/DL Dominick Strickland is a 6’4″ 235 lb. lineman that plays with a lot of passion. “I am a hard worker that will do whatever it takes to succeed. Ready for anything that the world will throw at me.” He plays a little high with his pad height but overcomes that with his strength. This offseason, he is working on his starts and stances and will be polished with his pad height by the time season starts.
Class of 2023 WR/FS Zion Gray is a 6’4″ 190 lb. play maker. I like him better as a receiver due to his ability go up high and snatch the ball. He is a duel, sport athlete while playing basketball.
Class of 2023 ATH Cameron Leonard is a 5’10” 183 lb. explosive athlete. Cameron plays multiple positions as WR, Safety, Corner, and Linebacker. His uses his size as an advantage like a young Tyrann Mathieu’s.
Class of 2024 CB/WR Symeon Malone is a 6’3″ 184 lb. future star. Symeon showed up and showed out during our February camp in Pineville, La. He ran a 4.57 40-yard dash and a 4.42 Shuttle. During the one-on-ones, I had Symeon line up with an inside press and work on dominating the inside shoulder of the receiver. By doing this, it showed his ability to flip his hips and cover the deep ball vs a good QB. I look for Symeron to have a break out season in 2022 and show his skills he has learned this offseason.
Overall, the Tigers are poised for another deep run this season. They have a huge hole to fill at the QB position, but they have a very good backfield, and an extremally talented defense.