School Spotlight: Jefferson County High School (Fayette, MS)

Jefferson County High School is a class 3A high school located in Fayette, Mississippi. This small town is located northeast of Natchez, Mississippi. The Jefferson County Tigers have been around since 1938 (formerly Fayette High School until name change in 1963). Historically, the Tigers have not had much success on the football field. That was until current Head Coach Roderick Holmes came into the job in 2021. In Holmes second season as the head coach, Jefferson County won 8 games, a school record for single season.

Coach Holmes is an experienced coach with 16 years under his belt. Previously, Holmes coached at Natchez for 11 years, where he began with junior varsity football for 8 years. Afterward he moved on to coaching the high school level for 3 years, along with both basketball programs. Now, Coach Holmes is in his 5th year at Jefferson County High School. The first season he worked as the wide receivers coach, then second year promoted to offensive coordinator. Coach Holmes maintained his position as offensive coordinator, along with quarterbacks coach when he became Head Coach in 2021. Last season, the Tigers won, and swept their division for the second time in school history.

Head Coach Holmes wanted to give a special shoutout to the coaches on his staff that spend there everyday bettering the players they have. Joshua Lutch offensive line coach, Zack Berry linebackers coach, Stacy Murphy defensive line coach, Bouivier Ellis wide receivers coach, Kiwaski Tenner defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach.

The standard that the coaches want to establish at Jefferson County is simple. They want to lay out a foundation for the players, a pipeline for players to get from the high school level to collegiate. This is more difficult for smaller high schools scattered throughout rural areas. Players on Jefferson County’s football team has to maintain a certain GPA throughout the season, as well as offseason. Players realize that the next level requires success both on the field and academically. By establishing a pipeline and having standards set for the team, Coach Holmes believes this will allow for his players to play, and have something to look forward to if they are trying to extend their playing career.

For the upcoming season the expectations grow for the Tigers. While winning their third playoff game in school history was a milestone for Jefferson County, the Tigers plan on making a deeper run next season. Since Jefferson High School is a class 3A, many of the football players are cross-sport athletes. Players spend the offseason either playing a different sport or lifting weights to stay in shape. The Tigers will be returning all but three lineman on the offensive side of the ball. On defense, Jefferson County will be returning 6 starters from the previous season. Coach Holmes was able to speak about the young talent on his team and highlight some of the impact athletes to keep an eye on this upcoming season:

No. 2 Jabari Watson is listed at 6’1″ 175 pounds. A true dual threat quarterback, Watson will be a senior this upcoming season for the Tigers. Watson has 3 years of experience under center for Coach Holmes and is expected to remain one of his top guys. Last year Watson threw for 2052 yards with 24 TD’s to 6 INT’s. He also ran for 477 yards and 1 rushing TD.

QB no. 2 – Jabari Watson

No. 14 running back JJ Claiborne is listed at 6’0″ 215 pounds. Claiborne carried the ball 118 times for 987 yards with 10 TD’s as a junior running back. Coach Holmes says that Claiborne is a bruiser of a running back, and is not afraid to run through someone. JJ Claiborne is in the 2024 class and plans on making a big difference for the Tigers next season.

RB no. 14 – JJ Claiborne

Wide receiver no. 5 Luke Bolin is listed at 6’3″ 185 pounds. Luke has already received community college offers in Mississippi and is a planning on making a bigger name for himself. Bolin brought in 33 receptions for 598 yards with 11 TD’s last season. Bolin is known for being a quick receiver with an excellent first step. He is not afraid to go up and high point a football either.

WR no. 5 – Luke Bolin

Defensive back (ATH) no. 21 De’Anthony Miller is known on the team as “Mr. Seatbelt” because of how well he locks receivers up. Miller started 9 games last year as a freshman, making 30 tackles with 3 INT’s.

CB no. 21 De’Anthony Miller (photo courtesy of The Natchez Democrat)

Outside linebacker no. 13 Jaekwon Collins is listed at 6’0″ 215 pounds. As a sophomore, Collins put up 77 total tackles with 2 tackles for loss. Jaekwon is expected to make an extreme impact for the next two seasons at Jefferson County, class of 2025.

OLB no. 13 Jaekwon Collins

Middle linebacker no. 6 Jermall Williams started last year as a sophomore as well. Williams made 105 tackles with 5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. Coach Holmes commented that he is “like the terminator” when he plays. Williams shows great sideline to sideline speed , but also has enough size and strength to plug the interior holes if needed.

MLB no. 6 – Jermall Williams

Wide receiver/ returner (ATH) no. 1 Royale Shelvy is listed at 6’1″ 170 pounds. Shelvy made 49 receptions with 797 yards, 5 TD’s. This wide receiver has shifty abilities that allow him to quickly evade defenders.

The Jefferson County Tigers are an exciting team to keep an eye on for many years to come. Coach Holmes has this program on the right track as the tigers plan ahead for the 2023 football season.