School: Jordan High
Nickname: Red Jackets
2013 record: 2-8
Key players: Javante West, Tim Griggs, Romello Kimbrough, LaDarius Humphries, D’Arius Williams
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Key game: vs. Columbus, Aug. 22 at Kinnett Stadium and vs. Hardaway, Sept. 6 at Memorial Stadium
Outlook: The two wins for Jordan in 2013 weren’t a lot, but they were something. And for a team that has experienced precious little success of the years — losing 26 straight contests from 2010-13 and failing to notch a winning record since 1993 — that makes all the difference.
Heading into 2014, Jordan doesn’t even have the same nucleus that brought it wins over Temple and Chattahoochee County, missing quarterback William Harris, who graduated. But it has a confidence not often seen in the program, knowing now what it feels like to have some success and hungry to build upon it going forward.
“The kids had lost 26 games in a row,” said coach Jim Brown, going into his third season at the helm. “When you don’t know how to win and you’re in a close game, you’ve got to get over that. Last year, they did. The kids got excited about that.”
Brown isn’t sprinkling sugar on a bad situation. He and the players both understand there’s still a long way to go. Asked about goals for the team, he said he wanted to get a few wins under the belt.
“I really can’t say how many, but I expect to get a few,” he said.
It’s a realistic approach. Right now, Jordan’s eight Region 2-AAA games on the schedule don’t mean a whole lot. It’s unlikely it will compete with a Peach County or Kendrick — both playoff teams a year ago — right away.
Instead, it can look at non-region games against Columbus and Hardaway and approach those as foundation-builders. Win or lose, how the team performs and the progress it shows from last season will be good indicators of the Red Jackets success down the line.
The team does return a number of starters and primary contributors from last year, primarily wide receiver/safety Javante West, who was the team’s best weapon on the offensive side of the ball. West recorded 64 receptions for 1,001 yards and 10 touchdowns.
This year, he’ll be catching passes from first-year starter, sophomore Romello Kimbrough, who played running back a year ago. Out of the backfield, Kimbrough ran 49 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns, exhibiting a penchant for the game that could make him a key to the Red Jackets’ future. Only a sophomore, he is already 6-foot-0 and 210 pounds.
Tim Griggs and Kyren Harper will take over running back duties, and a fairly experienced line will be led by three-year starters Jamal Lewis, Kastadell Ford and Enrique Barcenas, all juniors.
Defensively, senior linebacker LaDarius Humphries, who had 74 tackles and a sack last year, and safety D’Arius Williams will lead the way.
Overall, there are eight returning starters on both offense and defense.
“Those wins last year showed us progress is being made in football,” Humphries said. “We went from 0-10 to 2-8. You can tell progress is being made.”
How much progress is hard to say, but the Red Jackets feel like they’re ready to enter the playoff discussion.
“Playoffs,” West said when asked for his expectations for this season. “Everyone has a mindset that we can win.”