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Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School
Ridgeland

Nelson building culture in Jaguars locker room

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

Ridgeland—It has been a rebuilding process for Ridgeland-Hardeeville head coach Jahmaal Nelson. The Jaguars have struggled with player participation the last several years and haven’t been able to field a junior varsity squad.

However, the tide seems to be about to turn. They currently have 36 players and hope to add even more as school opens back up.

 “The biggest positive is this is the most amount of numbers we’ve had since I’ve been there. We had a lot of guys go through spring workouts and summer workouts, and we’ve got to get the culture to continue to trend upwards,” Nelson said.

The Jaguars started the 2017 season on a winning note, holding off Thomas Heyward Academy, 12-8. It wasn’t pretty, but it gave the younger players some experience with the game on the line.

“We’re young and we’re trying to fit people in the places they need to be,” Nelson said. “A win is a win, but they were a SCISA 1A team and we are in a 3A league with some tough teams like Bluffton, Wade Hampton, Battery Creek and May River.”

Only five seniors are on the team, and they will need to make a huge impact. Quarterback Derald Nelson, wide receiver Jabari Williams and offensive linemen Tyrese Darien, Nasir Hanner and Jeremiah Orr must be looked to for leadership with half the roster made up of freshmen.

Freddie Aiken III and MarQuez Grant will see time at running back while Ronald Zimmerman and Jertaveon Smalls are the other receivers. Myles Pinckney and Renae Wright start up front on both sides of the ball and are joined by Davison Lewis on the defensive line.

Aiken, Adam Cooper and Robert Dupont are the linebackers, and Tyrone Frazier and Caleb Frazier team up with Smalls, Grant and Zimmerman in the secondary.

No matter what happens the rest of the season, Nelson wants this group to succeed both on and off field.

“It’s about waking up every day, looking yourself in the mirror, and saying you’re going to be the best you can be. Regardless of whatever situation they’re in, they can face themselves and say they’re fully focused and fully ready for anything, not just academics or athletics. We can all grow and be better men,” Nelson said.

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