Instead of being in the midst of the state playoff discussion Friday, the discussion for Jefferson centers around a winning season.
With key personnel losses to graduation, injuries and a much more demanding region schedule this year, the two-time defending 8-AA champion Dragons (5-4, 3-3) had to readjust their goals as the year went on. Now the goal is to finish 6-4.
“I thought we would have a better season this year, but I guess we’ve got to take what we get,” senior tight end Hoytes Damons said.
Jefferson, which will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1999, shoots for win no. 6 Friday against East Hall on senior night as part of the region play-in week between Region 8-AA’s North and South divisions.
East Hall and Jefferson are both no. 4 seeds out of their respective subregions.
While the top three seeds in each division will play in games to sort out 8-AA’s state playoff picture, Jefferson and the rest of the region is relegated to consolation games Friday to finish out the schedule.
“It’s a way tougher region than in the past, but I guess we’ve got to finish strong and go out winning,” Damons said.
To that end, Jefferson is looking at this game against East Hall as more than just game no. 10. Since losing 51-7 at Elbert County, Jefferson has reeled dominating victories over rivals Jackson County and East Jackson – by a combined 91-36 margin – and has piled up the total yardage in the process.
This is a team that’s playing well now and wants to finish the year accordingly.
“If we could go out with three-straight wins, that would make the off season a lot more pleasant,” Jeffreson coach T. McFerrin said.
Meanwhile, East Hall enters with an unimpressive 3-6 record after losing to Banks County last week 53-28. But that doesn’t mean the Vikings have unimpressive players.
Quite the opposite.
East Hall has SEC- and ACC-level talent along its defensive front with defensive end Sterling Bailey, who has committed to Georgia, and defensive end Chaz Cheeks, who has committed to Georgia Tech.
Meanwhile, big-play running back Jamond Whitt “has got a lot of speed,” McFerrin warned.
East Hall also has an element of unpredictability to it. McFerrin said that his defense coaches are “scratching their heads right now” trying to decipher exactly what offense they’ll face Friday.
East Hall runs a little bit of everything – wing-T, pro-I, double wing and the spread.
McFerrin said his team must come prepared on senior night.
“We better because they’ve got some players and some guys who can make big plays,” he said.
Damons said one more win for these Dragon seniors is motivation enough.
“Winning is good,” Damons said. “Any kind of win is good.”