JEFFERSON’S T. McFerrin believes he and his coaching staff have their work cut out for them this spring football session with a Dragon squad that will be cutting its teeth.
“We’re really young and inexperienced, more so than anytime in the three years I’ve been there,” McFerrin said. “This is my fourth year and we’ve got more new faces in there. Some of them will be juniors, but they played JV. They didn’t play varsity.”
While Jefferson — which began spring practice Tuesday — returns standout quarterback Bryant Shirreffs, just one starter on the offensive line is back while the entire starting secondary from last year’s 8-3 state playoff team is gone.
“So we’ve really got a lot of coaching to do,” McFerrin said. “A lot of jobs are up in the air, so there should be a lot of good competition out there if we can get everybody back.”
In fact, Jefferson will be without 14 players this spring due to other sports obligations and injuries. Because of that, the Dragons won’t hold a spring scrimmage game.
“We’re going to scrimmage but it’s not going to be a game scrimmage,” McFerrin said.
One of the main players the Dragons will be without is rising junior running back Tristen Jackson, who came on strong at the end of last year and finished with 959 rushing yards. Jackson had surgery on his ACL at the end of January and his recovering.
“We know what he can do,” McFerrin said. “We’ve just got to get him back in shape. He’s making good progress.”
Jefferson hopes to get Jackson back in time for the start of preseason practice in August.
Jefferson’s spring schedule will be split up due to the state track meet, which the school hosts each year.
The Dragons will practice through Friday this week and then Monday through Wednesday next week before breaking for the boys’ state track meet.
Practice then resumes Monday through Wednesday the following week.
While Jefferson has suffered its heaviest losses along the offensive front and in the defensive backfield, the spring session will be used to evaluate all positions, McFerrin stressed.
“It’s going to be a focus on every position,” he said. “We’ve got new running backs. Just about every position we’ve got different people in there.”
McFerrin said the spring session will also allow he and his staff to move players around for a day or two.
“We’re trying to move people around a little bit and see what the best place for them is,” McFerrin said. “Spring is a time to experiment a little bit.”