The James Clemens Jets may very well prove to be the sleeper team to watch in the upcoming 2018-19 football season.
Since head coach Wade Waldrop began his tenure with the Jets he has seen a steady rise in the program’s success. That is until last season.
“We graduated a lot of defensive players the year before (2016), and we had some critical injuries” said Waldrop. “We started a lot of younger players last year, we had a tough year.” The Jets finished the 2017 season with a record of only three wins and seven losses.
They are the only team in this year’s 7A top ten preseason poll with a losing record last year. They are ranked #10.
The most prominent area of improvement from the Jets this year will be on the offensive line. “These players that are now juniors and seniors are more experienced, physically a lot stronger, and more confident. We fully expect them to play at a higher level,” Waldrop said.
Coach Waldrop said he and his staff always try to instill in the players a sense of responsibility. “They need to know their assignment, know what’s expected of them and do their job.”
The main emphasis over the last two weeks of pre-season camp has been toughness and consistency, “Our schedule is tough early on,” said Waldrop. “We open with Thompson, followed by Clay-Chalkville, and then Bob Jones. So, it’s critical that we’re mentally tough, consistent, and remain healthy.”
If the Jets have a particular area of concern it is depth at some of the key positions. The issue is finding the next man to step up in those positions, which is “the biggest challenge to our coaches and our players right now…finding those guys,” said Waldrop.
The Jets return starting quarterback Conner Cantrell, who was forced into action when expected starter Jamil Mohammad suffered a season-ending injury. Mohammad is back and at full strength giving Waldrop what he describes as “Two great quarterbacks. That is the position that probably has the most depth heading into this season.”
Running back Dylan Blackburn will showcase his speed and strength carrying the ball for the offense this year. On the defensive side of the line if scrimmage is standout linebacker Zach Hopkins listed at 6’1” and 215 pounds, and Daevion Davis will anchor the D-line at a staggering 6’2” and 305 pounds.
The James Clemens Jets begin their season on the road in a non-conference matchup with Thompson on August 24 at 7p.m.