Young Team Looks To Improve On 0-4 Start
An 0-4 start to a football season is a disappointment to any coach, player or fan.
But at the same time, it can create a burning drive to improve, to get better. And it provides an opportunity to build commitment and dedication.
That’s what Jeff Davis High Head Coach Lance Helton, his staff and his players are working to build on.
A brutal schedule, an unusually young team and the absence of key players due to injuries and unforeseen circumstances have left the Yellow Jackets struggling to overcome daunting adversities.
Coach Helton said this week returning running back Kyrece Hunt is lost for the season with an injury. Returning linebacker Carter Mullis is not expected to play this week due to an injury. Coach Helton is hopeful that returner Amarion Mitchell will play this week. Neither Hunt, Mullis nor Mitchell have played this season because of their injuries. The loss of those three coupled with the loss of returning starters Kiyon Dotson and A.J. Hunt have left holes in the lineup that are hard to fill.
Coach Helton has had to call on up to 15 freshmen and sophomores to step in to fill the void and that’s a hard fete to accomplish.
Coach Helton said, despite the woes, he is still committed to building young men of character.
“I’ll sacrifice whatever it takes to make sure our program is still done right,” Helton said. “That is of the utmost importance to me because, once we get it back where it should be, we’ll be where we need to be. We have got to have kids with character.”
“It’s been a challenging year,” Helton added. “We’ve been snakebit. I know everyone is frustrated and we’ve gotta get it fixed. We can still win some football games here.”
“The community has gotta stay together,” he said. “I think that’s the biggest thing.”
Before the season began, Cook High’s Hornets looked like the best choice on the schedule for a homecoming game opponent.
Cook was 5-6 last year and had not had a winning season since 2017 when they finished 7-6. The 2017 7-6 finish and a 5-5 record in 2020 were the only times over the last six seasons that the Hornets were not under .500.
But this season, Cook hired Byron Slack as their new head coach and the Hornets come into Friday’s game in Hazlehurst with a 3-1 record with its only loss coming to Class 7A power Valdosta (5-0, ranked No. 7 in Class 7A) 34-7 on Valdosta’s home field.
Slack has an impressive resume in his 23 years of coaching football, and Coach Helton has the utmost respect for him.
“Byron is awesome,” Helton said of the Hornet mentor. “I’ve known Byron a long time. He’s a good football coach.”
Slack has served as an assistant at three of the best football programs in Georgia: Lowndes County, Camden County and Colquitt County.
He is a former Lowndes County defensive coordinator and he spent last season as an associate head coach and defensive line coach at Colquitt County. And he also coached the defense at Camden County.
The Hornets opened the season with a 55-7 blasting of Pelham.
After the loss to Valdosta, they rebounded with a 32-28 win over Class A perennial powerhouse Brooks County (ranked No. 3 in Class A D1) and then took on another Class A perennial powerhouse Clinch County (ranked No. 8 in Class A D2), winning 42-13. The only losses Brooks and Clinch have this year were to Cook.
Cook was not ranked in preseason polls but, after the impressive wins over Brooks and Clinch, the Hornets entered the Top 10, this week ranked as high as No. 4.