FOLLOWING three weeks of preseason practice against each other, Jackson County’s players get a change of scenery Friday.
The Panthers will travel to Athens for a 7:30 p.m. scrimmage at Athens Christian. Although it’s just a preseason affair, Jackson County is excited nonetheless.
“Yeah, we are,” coach Billy Kirk said. “Come this Friday, we’ll get to hit somebody in an opposing color jersey. For us, it’s a big deal.”
Athens Christian, 2-8 a year ago, is a Class A team under the direction of a new coach, Steve Brooks, a former head coach at Clarke Central.
While Jackson County will get to knock off the rust in a game-like situation against the Eagles, it also gets to assess some lingering depth chart questions, especially on defense. Jackson County still has battles brewing along the defensive line, linebacking corps and defensive backfield. The Panthers have just three returning starters on defense.
“As inexperienced as we are, there are some questions that we’ve got to get answered,” said Kirk, whose team lost last year’s scrimmage to Athens Christian, 20-14.
The Panthers, of course, will get a look at their offense too. Jackson County has two-platoon systems in a few offensive areas, including quarterback and running back.
Kyle Daniel will get the starting nod at quarterback Friday. Daniel and Jalen Banks are again vying for playing time at signal caller.
Daivon Ledford will likely get the first reps at tailback with the offense. Ledford and Dustin Scott, however, are expected to split the carries pretty evenly as a tailback tandem this fall running behind a stout and experienced offensive line.
In the meantime, Jackson County, coming off a 4-6 season, continues its preparations for the season opener next weekend with Johnson.
Johnson, a two-win Class AAA team last year, scrimmaged East Jackson Thursday, winning 20-17 at East Jackson.
Jackson County’s scrimmage with Athens Christian will basically be an extension of its preseason practice plans for the Knights, who the Panthers will face Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. on the road.
“Everything we do is getting ready for Johnson,” Kirk said.