Jones County head coach Justin Rogers thought that he had a pretty good team heading into the 2017 season, but he still had some anxiety entering the first game against Houston County.
The pregame jitters, however, were gone within the first 15 seconds of the game as Drake Bolus returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Bolus also has three touchdowns on kickoff returns this season, including two in the Greyhounds’ 46-7 win over Woodland last week.
“Without question, the kickoff returns have given us a great lift this season,” Rogers said. “Returning a kickoff for a touchdown is like getting a slam dunk in basketball because it not only ignites the team; it ignites the fans. The crowd goes crazy, the other team is upset, and it gives us a huge emotional boost.”
While Rogers knows he has a dynamic weapon in Bolus, the Greyhounds’ head coach insists it’s more than just Bolus who makes a long kickoff return happen.
“I have a unit of 11 unselfish football players on the kickoff return team, and it takes every one of them to get a good kickoff return,” Rogers said. “I am not the guy who puts backups on the kickoff teams because special teams are every bit as important as the offense and defense. I put my best 11 football players on the field because we are trying to go to the house every time we return a kick.”
The area teams had five kickoffs returned for touchdowns just last week, with Perry’s Davion Ross returning two for touchdowns in the Panthers’ win over Harris County, and Jeremiah Kelly returning one for Howard in its win over Veterans.
“We spend a good amount of time on special teams, and it is important to the kids to be on the field for all of our special teams,” Perry head coach Kevin Smith said. “We make special teams a priority, and we want kids out there that want to be there. We know that we have a threat in Davion, but to tell the truth, we thought seriously about replacing him before the Harris County game because things just weren’t happening. We know that he is a 4.4 guy who can fly, but the Harris County game was the first time we really saw him show that he has game speed.
“There was no doubt that he proved me wrong. We have been able to block a few punts this year, so overall our special teams has been a major part of our success.”