THE TOUGH sledding just got tougher for a Jackson County team on the mend after a 48-0 loss to Elbert County.
The Panthers, hoping to ward off a fifth-consecutive loss, face suddenly-rejuvenated Oglethorpe County, which is coming off a 30-0 pasting of East Jackson. Kickoff is Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Lexington.
Consecutive games against region stalwarts North Oconee (Oct. 7), Hart County (Oct. 21) and Jefferson (Oct. 28) were tough enough when the schedule came out. Now Oglethorpe County, at 3-2, has emerged as a formidable foe.
“It’s one of those stretches that it’s like ‘gollee’ there’s no reprieve,” Jackson County coach Billy Kirk said.
The Patriots have acquitted themselves well through five games in 2011 after a winless (0-10) 2010 season. Oglethorpe County produced 374 yards rushing Friday in the shutout win over East Jackson as the Patriots are off to their best start in six years.
“That says a lot about what they’re doing down there at Oglethorpe County,” Kirk said.
The Patriots, running the triple option to great success last week, had two players going over 100 yards. Running back Casey Davenport finished with 184 yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Kendrick Presley ran for 160 yards and one touchdown.
Oglethorpe County runs an option offense attack very similar to the schemes employed by both Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern.
“It’s a throw-back offense that Georgia Tech has made popular,” Kirk said. “You have to play mistake-free, assignment football to stop it.”
But Jackson County has had film on Oglethorpe County for a few weeks now. And with the Patriots being so partial to the run, it’s not like Jackson County doesn’t know what it’s in store for.
“They’re a heavy, heavy run team,” Kirk said. “That helps us out defensively because it’s not like you don’t know what’s coming.”
Jackson County knew what was coming last week and — like most teams that play Elbert County — couldn’t withstand the Blue Devils’ speed.
Elbert County (5-0, 2-0) scored 28 first-quarter points Friday and ran out to a 42-0 halftime lead at Panther Stadium in rolling to a 48-0 win. The subregion-leading Blue Devils have now recorded three straight shutouts, winning by a margin of 134-0 over that span.
“There’s a reason that Elbert County is ranked sixth or seventh in the state,” Kirk said. “They’re a good football team. We got beat by a really good football team. There’s really nothing else to say about that.”
The Panthers, who turned the ball over three times, were limited to 140 yards of total offense. Kyle Daniel completed 11-of-21 passes for 89 yards with an interception and a fumble. Dustin Scott led Jackson County on the ground with 33 yards on 10 carries. Scott added 36 receiving yards on three catches. Ben Brissey also had 36 yards receiving on four catches.
Jackson County has now lost four in a row since opening the year with a 20-12 win over Johnson.
But Kirk and his charges aren’t panicking — even with a tough last week of September and rigorous month of October ahead of them.
“8-AA South, you get no favors by being in that region,” Kirk said. “But we’re in it. We’re going to continue to fight to do what we do.”