JACKSON COUNTY has maintained triple-digit participation numbers as it heads into Saturday’s spring game, which will close the Panthers’ well-attended 10-day May practice session.
The Panthers, who are dressing out over 100 players, will kick off their intrasquad scrimmage at 7 p.m. A middle school scrimmage at 5 p.m. will serve as the undercard.
“We’re just going to let it fly Saturday and let the kids have a good time,” coach Billy Kirk said.
Jackson County will play 10-minute quarters. There will be no special teams, but the game will be officiated.
Despite swelling participation figures, Kirk said fielding two offensive lines for Saturday’s scrimmage may still be a challenge. The Panthers have only found eight players to fill five spots for their normal lineup. Dividing the squad into two means Jackson County now has to fill 10 offensive lineman spots.
Still, there have been plenty of positives coming out of spring drills for the Panthers, who return 17 starters off a 4-6 ball club last year. In fact, Kirk said he recently witnessed one of the best spring practices he’s seen in five years on the job – one full of vocal leadership and players flying around the ball.
“It’s been a pleasure to watch,” Kirk said.
One of the more closely watched position battles this spring has been at quarterback where Jalen Banks and Kyle Daniel are taking most of the snaps. Austin Robinson, a standout baseball player, has come out for spring football but is still learning the system. Jacob Lewis, an incoming freshman, who stands 6’3” or 6’4” could also compete for some varsity minutes.
Jackson County will have the entire summer and several weeks worth of preseason workouts to get it all figured out. The Panthers’ first game is Aug. 26 at Johnson (Gainesville). The countdown to kickoff begins after Saturday.
“None of this matters until August,” Kirk said. “We’ve got to do a good job this summer.”