Jim Hill among JPS schools set return to football field
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - It was something that Jessie Williams was definitely not used to. Having already spent many a Fall Friday night on a football field, the then-sophomore of Jim Hill High School found himself in the stands with many of the fans that usually were watching him.
“I went to a lot of Terry High School games and a lot of Canton games,” recalled Williams. “The hype (at those games) was just challenging for me to see and I wasn’t out there to perform.”
Of the numerous things that people were robbed of in 2020 by COVID-19, football was chief among those for Williams and many other in Jackson. The sport they loved taken away from them last year after a controversial decision by the Jackson Public School system canceled football for all seven of its high schools while the rest of the schools around the metro played on.
“It was pretty devastating hearing that our season was gone,” said Jim Hill senior defensive end Javari Ewing, who also spent time going to different high school games during the 2020 season. “It was tough but you can always take something from the game even if you are playing, sitting or watching.”
Now after a year of staying off the football field, but staying in football shape, JPS schools are hoping to make a triumphant return in 2021.
In the case of Jim Hill, who has just won just two games in a season once and a total of six games since 2013, the hope is that this season is more of a rebirth than a restart. Charged with spearheading that new era is Jermaine Bryant who took the head coach job back in April having previously served on the coaching staff at Canton High School.
“Trying to get them used to a new way of doing things, a new culture,” Bryant explained. “The talent is across the board here, we just have to build solid foundation with solid fundamentals and discipline. We feel we have a team that can be very successful and can go places.”
One of the first places Bryant had to go upon taking the job was to the homes of current Jim Hill players and their parents. With the pandemic still very much shaping ways of life in some aspects, Bryant had to promote a safe environment in order to allow the Tiger roster to come together after a year off.
“It almost feels like a recruiting trip,” he said. “You have to let the community to know that the coaches’ best interest is for the player’s safety and we had to let the parents know that we were doing everything we can with sanitizing and those type of things.
“We’re behind a year, teams that played last year are familiar with their kids. We had to come in and hit the ground running.”
And now with a new season and a new lease on football life following such a dark autumn in 2020, it seems as though it will be easy for Jim Hill to run that extra mile this season. The sport that the Tigers love has returned and they have no plans on letting it go.
“Last year was all taken away from us,” said Williams. “So now this year we’re excited and are ready to show out on the field.”
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