Spotlight: Jay High School, 11/10/17
A few weeks ago we weren't expecting to do a spotlight story on Jay.
A coach's vision, sheer determination, and some talent developing is fueling the surge.
Melvin Kersey knows how to win at Jay. A 1993 grad, he played on a regional final team and was an assistant on the last Royals bunch to make the playoffs in 2007.
Returning to the staff in 2016 as head coach, Kersey had a plan to restore glory, one that had to withstand a 1 - 9 debut season.
That vision included a return to smashmouth football and running a tight ship.
Higher hopes met mostly frustrated early this season as Jay lost four of their first five, but the last loss was different. Facing powerhouse Baker in week six, the Royals led in the third quarter - although ultimately losing by 22, the impact was clear.
The Royals haven't lost since.
Throughout the five-game win streak, and before, it's not hard to see who is the heart and soul of the team.
Junior running back James Eddings goes for almost 1,700 years and scored 23 touchdowns, but it's the way he plays that is the real wow.
It seems Eddings will find a measure of success no matter what, but the development of the offensive line is proving a huge difference maker.
A group already trying to find an identity lost two starts before the season began.
Jay is a run-first team, but they also have a passing game to keep you honest. Senior Connon Moye is delivering at quarterback and he's got a prime target in senior receiver Eric Godfrey.
An offense averaging 45 points over the past five games is being matched by a defense that's risen to the occasion, allowing only 13 points a pop over that stretch and 20 points less than the first five games.
Forcing turnovers is a big part of the turnaround, and a bunch of young players are contributing, most notably the middle linebackers, including junior Stone Brown and sophomore Connor Roberts.
It's all led to the Royals first trip to the playoffs in 10 years. The significance of that can't be overstated.