Monday morning quarterback: Starkville vs. Clinton

Joel Coleman
Staff Writer

Football coaches typically aren’t guys who need pats on the back. Most are pretty confident individuals and don’t need reassurance from anyone.

If I had to guess, Starkville head coach Chris Jones is one of those kind of guys. He has always struck me as a guy that knows exactly what he’s doing and doesn’t rely on anyone else’s stamp of approval.

That’s OK. I’m going to give him mine anyway. Chris Jones is one heck of a football coach, and regardless of how far he leads the Yellowjackets in the playoffs this year, Starkville is sure lucky to have Jones.

Everyone was pretty sure Jones was a good football coach prior to him being hired at Starkville earlier this year. Jones led Kemper County to the Class 3A State championship last year. This was a Kemper County team that went 1-10 the year before Jones took over the program in 2012. Jones took Kemper County from the cellar to the top of the mountain.

Now, he’s working his magic in Starkville. A year after missing the playoffs, the Jackets captured the Class 6A, Region 2 championship last Friday with a 21-15 win over Clinton.

Maybe some are surprised by Starkville’s sudden turnaround. Those who have been around Jones, and especially those who play for him, aren’t shocked in the least.

“Coach Jones is one of the greatest to ever do what he does in my eyes,” Starkville senior wide receiver Cameron Hines said. “He works with us every day. He even practices with us himself to make us better. We love him.”
What’s not to love? Aside from his winning ways, Jones takes the hit for his players too.

Last Friday, Starkville was struggling mightily in the first half. The Jackets couldn’t get out of their own way. There were several ugly fumbles. The offense was sputtering.

Who took the blame? Jones did.

“I have to do a better job and I take all the blame,” Jones said after the game.

Rest assured coach, you’re already doing a pretty fantastic job. A year after missing the postseason, Starkville probably would have been satisfied with just getting a playoff berth this season. Jones instead gave the Jackets the region crown.

As a sign of just how good Jones is, he didn’t even seem to take one second to celebrate the milestone in the moments after the game last Friday.

“I haven’t even thought much about it because (winning the district) wasn’t the goal,” Jones said. “The goal is the state championship. We’re going to keep pushing for that and hopefully we’ll get it. We’re going to bust our guns trying and see what happens and let the chips fall where they may.”

Don’t get the wrong picture. Jones isn’t some robot. In shooting for the highest goal, he’s having fun, too.

In the end, isn’t that what coaching is all about? The kids are having fun and learning. The coach is having fun teaching. Sounds like an ideal scenario.

“Every day I’m out here is a blast,” Jones said. “I enjoy these kids. I have a great staff. We work well together and we vibe well.

“I’m blessed.”

I’d say Starkville is pretty blessed, too, to have Jones.

Joel Coleman is the Mississippi State writer for the Starkville Daily News. The views in this column are Coleman's and not necessarily the views of the SDN or its staff.