JACKSON COUNTY is ready for some football – even the spring variety.
Glad to be rid of what he called the “December to May lull,” coach Billy Kirk’s Panthers are back on the field this weekend for spring workouts following a 4-6 campaign in 2010.
“We’re excited it’s football season again,” Kirk said. “We’ve had a four to five month lull. We’ve had a lot of planning going on.”
Jackson County, which began spring drills Monday, will dress out 114 players, another reason Kirk is excited about getting 2011 under way. With a roster that expansive, Kirk said one of the major objectives is to find quality backups for Jackson County’s 17 returning starters.
“Our goal is to try and find some depth,” Kirk said. “We feel pretty good about our one-deep.”
Among the starting positions to still be sorted out, however, is quarterback. Jackson County was unsettled at that spot all of last year, starting three different signal callers in 2010. That will be one of the main focuses of the spring.
“It has to be,” Kirk said. “I hate to say that. We’ll keep our eyes really tight on that this spring.”
Kirk said Kyle Daniel, who was the Panthers’ starter for part of 2010, had a great offseason. Meanwhile, Jalen Banks just completed baseball and now will turn his attention to working toward the quarterback competition. Perhaps the wildcard in this year’s quarterback race is Austin Robinson, a standout baseball player who plans to participate in the spring football session.
Jackson County will also be in serious search of a new kicker and punter. Graduating senior Garrett Daglis, on numerous occasions, flipped field position as a punter and handled Jackson County’s kickoff and place kicking chores.
Other than sorting out the depth chart, Kirk wants to use this 10-day session to start building leadership, something he felt the program was largely missing this past fall.
“I don’t think we had a lot of that last year,” Kirk said. “I challenged a lot of the kids coming out of spring to do that.”
Jackson County will also welcome one of its largest contingent of freshmen with 26 ninth graders set to participate win spring drills.
As for the coaching staff, Jackson County will have some new faces for 2011.
David Darling, former defensive coordinator from East Jackson, will join the Panther staff and coach defensive backs and coordinate special teams. Jackson County also picked up former Dacula assistant coach Randy Holland, who will coach the offensive line.
“I’m very excited about our staff,” Kirk said.
Now, Jackson County is ready to focus on getting a head start for the 2011 campaign.
“We’re focusing on Jackson County for the next 10 days,” Kirk said. “We’re not worried about Johnson or Walnut Grove or Elbert County or anyone else right now.”