By Robert Wilson
Velma Jackson High lost its first three football games this season.
Don’t look for the losing streak to last much longer.
Velma Jackson’s most productive running back from last season – junior Gavin Griffin – is back in a Falcon uniform after his short stay at Hartfield Academy in Flowood.
The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Griffin gained 1,156 yards on 147 carries, a 10.3-yard average, and scored 16 TDs last season as a sophomore and led MHSAA Class 2A Velma Jackson to an 8-3 record and a No. 5 final ranking in Class 2A in MaxPreps last season.
Griffin transferred to MAIS Class 6A Hartfield in Flowood this summer and was expected to help the Hawks as they tried to win their first state championship after finishing runner-up to Madison-Ridgeland Academy last year.
Griffin came back to Velma Jackson almost two weeks ago and hopes to help the Falcons get their first win after opening the season with three close losses to Canton 14-12, Yazoo County 25-22 and Raymond 19-14.
Velma Jackson plays its first Class 2A, Region 6 game Friday at Yazoo City.
“We are glad to finally have Gavin back with our team,” Velma Jackson coach Bernard Euell said. “He meant so much to the success of our team last year as a sophomore and we expect him to have an even bigger impact in his return. Gavin is such a very versatile back that he will surely give us a boost in our running game and passing game. It has definitely been an easy transition for him since arriving back 11 days ago. Gavin is very familiar with what we do offensively, which has allowed him to hit the ground running. I’ve been very impressed with his leadership and work ethic since arriving back. He has always been a hard worker but since returning, he seems even more determined to achieve whatever goals he has set for himself. Gavin has the potential to definitely play beyond high school.”
Euell is a former Jim Hill High and Mississippi State standout who has a 49-22 record in seven seasons at Velma Jackson, including a 12-2 record in his first year in 2016 when he took his team to the Class 3A state semifinals. He feels Velma Jackson has a good chance for success for the rest of the season.
“With the emergence of quarterback Terrell Smith, wide receivers Kentravian Young and Lamar Kennedy, Gavin versatility should definitely create more opportunities for them,” Euell said. “Having Gavin back will also allow our coaching staff the opportunity to be even more creative with our sophomore sensation Tyshun Willis. In the coming weeks, I expect several of our in-state colleges to be making a trip to Camden (where Velma Jackson is located). Gavin will definitely be one of the catalysts to inspire that.”
Gavin wore No. 1 last year but will be wearing No. 9 this season.