The first spring football practice at Ethel in several years will conclude with the school hosting a jamboree Thursday and Friday.
The jamboree will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday with a varsity game between J.Z. George and Leake County playing three quarters.
Friday's schedule begins at 5 p.m. with Ethel junior varsity playing Choctaw Central JV. That will be followed by Ethel varsity vs. Choctaw Central varsity, Noxapater varsity vs. Choctaw Central varsity and Ethel varsity vs. Noxapater varsity.
The JV game will be 30 minutes with a running clock. Varsity games will be two full quarters.
There will not be any special teams. “Teams will start at the 30. If they have to punt, we will just mark off 30 or 35 yards,” said Ethel coach Dave McCrory.
He encouraged fans to attend the jamboree and support the team. There will be a $6 admission and concessions will be available.
“This jamboree will not be an indication of how our season will go,” McCrory said. “We're playing a 3A team (Choctaw Central) and a really, really good 1A team.” Noxapater won 10 games last fall and was second behind state champion Nanih Waiya in Region 3-1A.
Ethel concluded a 2-8 season last fall on a positive note with a 38-12 victory over West Lowndes. “Winning that last game will give us some momentum,” McCrory said. “We have an increase in numbers.” He expects close to 50 players for the 2019 season.
The Tigers have a big hole to fill at quarterback with the graduation of Kendal Dotson, who ran and passed for 1,836 yards and accounted for 19 of the team's 23 touchdowns. McCrory has high hopes for Jace Dean, a 6-2, 210-pound rising junior. Dean played linebacker and tight end last fall, but has been moved to quarterback to take advantage of his athleticism and leadership.
“He is a leader of our team. Every player on our team listens to him when he speaks,” McCrory said. “He runs the ball hard and throws the ball well. He is just a natural football payer. He can play any position on the field.”
Two other players who looked good in spring practice are running back Luther Clark and wide receiver/linebacker Isik Stewart. Clark will be a junior in the fall and Stewart a senior.
Clark carried 134 times for 695 yards and five TDs in the fall. Stewart, a hurdler on the track team, was Ethel's leading receiver with catches 18 for 352 yards and three TDs.
Stewart has attracted interest from colleges. “A couple of schools have come by and inquired about him,” McCrory said.
Spring practice went well, the coach said. “Spring to me is a time to evaluate different players so I can determine where they need to be, to decide who will play where.”
Ethel will remain in 3-1A, but the two heavyweights of the region -- Nanih Waiya and Noxapater – move to 2-1A. The 3-1A opponents will be Coffeeville, Leflore County, McAdams, Ray Brooks, Shaw, Simmons, West Bolivar and West Tallahatchie.
The 2019 season kicks off Aug. 23 with a home game against West Lowndes.