JHHS coaching staff pleased with play of “new look” Tigers in 7-on-7 tourney

Early in the upcoming season it won’t be surprising to see the fans of Jonesboro-Hodge High School football checking their programs to see who it was making a play. At virtually every offensive “skill” position on the field someone new will be lining up.

All summer long, head coach Terrance Blankenship and staff have been having what could be thought of as open tryouts to find a new quarterback, wide receivers and running backs. Sure, there are several coming back that had some experience, but none of the returnees was the “go to” guy from the year before.

Judging by the Tigers effort at the 7-on-7 round robin tourney that was held in Haynesville on Thursday where the Tigers, Golden Tornado’s and Cedar Creek all participated, it won’t take long for fans to get to know the names of several newcomers to the field.

“We still have a lot of work to do to get ready for the season but I was pleased with the way we played, especially several of the ones who will be getting their first chance to play extended minutes this year,” said Blankenship. “It is obvious that they have worked hard to be ready for their chance.”

Of special mention was the play of the defense where Reynald Bolds stood out by intercepting a pair of passes in his first real varsity action.

“We expected our defense would be a strength of our team this year,” reflected Blankenship. To have Reynald step in and perform like he did is a big plus.”

Several drew mention from Blankenship from the offensive side of the ball as well.

“For being the first time under center in live action, ‘Smoke’ (Chase Leonard) showed good promise,” commented Blankenship on his new quarterback. “I thought he threw the ball well and made good decisions.”

Blankenship also commented on the play of a couple of basketball players who will be plying their trade this fall on the gridiron and a former running back in junior high who has made a name for himself on the defensive side of the ball.

“I thought Savantez (Phillips) and Zion (Gray) looked good out wide,” said Blankenship. “Both are great leapers. If we put the ball up, they can come down with it.”

The former running back Blankenship is referring to is nonr other than LSU linebacker commit Xavier Atkins, who led the state in tackles as a Sophomore in 2021.

“Most don’t remember that Xavier was a beast with the ball in his hands when he was in junior high  before he made a name for himself on the defensive side of the ball as a varsity player,” reflected “Coach Blank” as he is affectionately called locally. “We were confident he could be a good running back at this level as well and he proved today that he is just as aggressive and explosive with the ball in his hands as when making a tackle. I look forward to him causing all kinds of havoc for teams this year on both sides of the ball.”

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