Eyes now turn to 2011 for Jackson County after a four-win campaign this year done largely with a roster full of underclassmen.
Jackson County finished the year with a 41-14 pounding of Rabun County last Friday (Click here for JCCHS-Rabun photos) and will return nine of 11 starters on offense and eight of 11 on defense next season.
“It’s going to be a good year for Jackson County simply because you’re returning a ton,” coach Billy Kirk said after the victory over Rabun County. “If you saw the field tonight (Friday), in the first quarter there eight sophomores and one freshman. That’s a lot of youth.”
Tony Holton out leaps a Rabun County defender for a touchdown grab last week.
With those young players being pressed into service this year in a tough Region 8-AA slate, it will pay dividends for next year when the team tries to improve upon back-to-back 4-6 campaigns.
Kirk notes potential that will be in next year’s lineup.
“The young ones that stepped in and played on Friday nights, those are JV kids … but moving forward to 2011 you return so much depth, it’s tremendous the opportunity that we’re going to have for next year,” Kirk said. “So hopefully, we can capitalize on that.”
Kirk had hoped to improve upon a 4-6 record in 2009 this year. But after a 2-0 start, Jackson County lost six of its last eight with five of those losses coming in subregion play.
But the Panthers leave 2010 with some momentum after whipping Rabun County by 27 points.
“I’m proud of the way our team finished up,” Kirk said. “Obviously I wish that we could have played a little harder in a couple of games and done some things, but to go 4-6, 4-6 back-to-back, I’m proud of our program. That hadn’t been done around here in a long time. This senior class is going to leave as the winningest senior class (in recent years) that’s been through here. It’s not a tremendous thing, but for us and this our program it is.”