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Jags expect to continue to play hard

A season that began with great promise has spiraled into a losing skid, but Ridgeland-Hardeeville High football coach Jahmaal Nelson said he still expects the Jaguars to play hard.

RHHS began the season with three straight wins, but Friday’s 41-18 loss at Wade Hampton was the team’s fifth straight.

RHHS allowed Wade Hampton to score on three straight first-quarter drives and trailed 20-0. Derald Nelson tossed a 10-yard TD pass to Jabari Williams to cut the deficit to 20-6.

Wade Hampton extended to a 34-6 lead late in the third. RHHS scored twice in the fourth to cut the deficit to 41-18.

The Jaguars (3-5, 0-3 Region 8-AAA), who last won 20-12 on Sept. 1 over Allendale-Fairfax, end the regular season this Friday against visiting region foe Bluffton (5-3, 2-1).

“We are going to continue to teach them to be quality young men,” Nelson said.

Nelson said the team too often put its collective heads down after mistakes. On Oct. 13 against Battery Creek, the Jaguars led 12-0, but the team had about 100 yards in penalties had a touchdown called back because of a penalty.

“In the real world, you have to fight through it,” Nelson said. “That’s what we’ll continue to do – teach life lessons.”

Nelson said he’s been pleased with the play of several players, included Myles Pinckney, who’s given a strong effort despite shoulder and ankle injuries.

Freddie Aiken entered the Wade Hampton game with 300 yards rushing on 68 carries and no fumbles. Nelson said most of the yards were thanks to “great efforts” by Aiken.

Jabari Williams had three touchdowns, 13 rushes for 117 yards and 100 yards receiving against Battery Creek.

The development of quarterback Derald Nelson has surprised Nelson. The quarterback was 44 of 111 passing for 1,068 yards entering last week’s game. The passing attempts are a major change to the usual ground-and-pound offense Nelson usually deploys.

But the senior, who is a skilled baseball pitcher, has a strong arm and Williams has been a receiving threat all season. Coach Nelson said his offense is based on personnel and this season the personnel allowed him to be more comfortable calling passing plays.

“(Derald’s) forte is throwing the ball,” Nelson said.

Next season will likely bring a new brand of offense because Derald Nelson graduates in the spring.

“We are a multiple-option team,” Coach Nelson said. “That’s what we take, what the personnel gives us.”

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