Jones started career in Picayune

Published 9:36 pm Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It has been 21 years since Picayune played for a state football championship.

But the Maroon Tide program will be represented, somewhat, this week when another state title is decided on the gridiron.

George County head coach Al Jones leads his Rebels into the Class 5A state championship game against powerful South Panola at 7:00 p.m., Friday night in Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson.

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Jones began his coaching career almost 25 years ago as a member of Calvin Triplett’s Picayune High staff and was part of the 1986 staff that won the last state title captured by the Maroon Tide.

“I had always loved football, but it was there where I developed my love for coaching,” Jones said, of his days with the Picayune program. “We were a close staff and coach Triplett was definitely a great influence on my coaching career. There are things that I still look back on today that I learned from my time there in Picayune. I was always very appreciative of coach Triplett for giving me a chance to start coaching there.”

Jones began his career as just on e of two defensive coaches for Picayune, along with now current Maroon Tide head coach Dodd Lee. The staff also included though, Hal Holmes and Nate Fairconatue, all of whom went on to become head coaches.

“That was the defensive staff, me and Dodd,” Jones laughed. “But we all had such a good chemistry. I was the youngest one on the staff and we all just learned so much about football from one another.”

Jones spent four seasons as an assistant coach for the Maroon Tide, and left after the state championship season along with Holmes to Vancleave.

After three seasons there, he again followed Holmes to George County where he has been for the past 18 years.

“Hal tried to get me to go back to Picayune with him when he left to go back there, but I just decided to stay here,” Jones added. “I think I was the only one on that staff that didn’t return to Picayune at some point, but we have made a good home here and I enjoy it.”

Jones is in his seventh season at the helm of the Rebels, compiling an impressive 72-18 record over that span. This is George County’s first ever trip to the state finals.

South Panola comes in to the game with a 74 game winning streak, the longest in the nation in prep football circles.

Jones hopes some of what he learned from winning that state title 21 years ago as an assistant will carry over to this week.

“If we can win it, of course it will be a great thing for our school and our community,” Jones added. “Just like I remember it being for Picayune back then.”