Flashes have faith in center

Published 9:45 am Tuesday, August 11, 2015

For four years, St. Aloysius had a rock in the middle of its offensive line.

Center Bash Brown was a team leader, a four-year starter, and the guy responsible for calling out protections and assignments for one of the best lines in Mississippi.

Brown is gone now, graduated and gone to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Stepping into his shoes is someone who knows Brown well and is eager to carry on his legacy — senior Brandon Jones, Brown’s cousin.

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“It’s going to be hard, for sure, but I’m just going to do my best and try to do as good as they did last year on the O-line,” Jones said. “I feel like we do have some big shoes to fill, but I feel like we can get the job done just as well.”

Jones transferred to St. Al after playing with Warren Central’s junior varsity team in 10th grade.

He had to sit out last year under Mississippi High School Activities Association rules, but did contribute in practice as the Flashes reached the Class 1A championship game.

St. Al coach BJ Smithhart said he liked what he saw of Jones last year and had no qualms about throwing a first-time starter into the fire at one of the most important positions on the offensive line.

“He’s a good ballplayer. I’ve only seen him in practice, but he’s chomping at the bit,” Smithhart said. “I’m excited for him, probably moreso for anybody, for this season to kick off. He’s had to wait a long time for something that he loves to do. I think people will definitely notice him because he plays with that kind of fire.”

Jones will be part of a rebuilt, but talented, St. Al line this season. Drake Dorbeck is playing with Southern Miss this season, Bash Brown is at West Point, and another four-year starter Jacob Kitchens also graduated.

Left tackle Ben Brown and guard Josh Price are back, however, as is guard Bryce Richards. Although they didn’t start every game last season, they all saw significant playing time as they were rotated in and out of the lineup and have the same level of experience.

Jones fits right in with that group. He didn’t play in 2014, but did practice with the team. He said that’s eased his transition to being a starter.

“I’m just going to do the best I can since it’s my last year. Use everything I learned last year practicing and do everything I can this year,” Jones said.

Smithhart added that Jones’ age gave him confidence that he’ll not only survive as one of St. Al’s linemen, but thrive in a leadership position.

“You want to have a leader at center, and we’ve been lucky enough to have Bash for four years. It’s a big plus to have a guy that’s been in some battles, who’s an older kid,” Smithhart said.

“If you know Brandon, you know he doesn’t get high or low. He just plays. He plays very aggressive and never loses his cool. He’s the right kind of demeanor we’re looking for.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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