AS SOON as the final seconds ticked off the clock in Jackson County’s spring football game Monday, new coach Benji Harrison put his players on notice about this summer.
Harrison — who comes to the Panthers via Flowery Branch — said there’s much to cover and only a precious few months to do it before Jackson County’s Aug. 31 opener with Winder-Barrow.
“I think the big thing is we’ve got to have full commitment this summer,” said Harrison, who was Flowery Branch’s offensive coordinator last year. “And that’s what I keep telling our kids. Coming this summer is not ‘if you feel like it.’ We want to put our hands to the plow and ‘let’s get better this summer.’”
Jackson County is coming off a 3-7 season and will move up to Region 8-AAA this fall.
Harrison and his staff are naturally a little behind because they’ve only been on the job for a few months. The 10-day spring practice session allowed Harrison a valuable first look at his new team. “They’re learning,” Harrison said. “We threw a bunch at these guys. We felt like we were a little behind in getting stuff in, so we threw a lot at them this spring. I think for the most part, they responded.”
Harrison estimated that he and his staff installed 70 percent of his up-tempo, spread attack and now must determine where this team’s strengths lie.
“We’ve got a lot more stuff to put in,” Harrison said. “But the thing we’ve got to look at now, is we’re looking at seeing what are we good at? We don’t just want to have a bunch of stuff just to have stuff. We’re going to have stuff that we’re good at.”
Harrison acknowledged that the spring playbook was a lot to grasp but felt the cram-session was necessary going forth into the all-important summer.
“We feel like we had to throw a lot at them, realizing that it may not be as crisp as we want it. But we’ve got time to get that right.”
That said, this summer for the Panthers promises to be a mix of weight training, seven-on-seven passing competitions with other schools and much attention on the playbook.
“So it’s a lot of stuff to get in this summer,” Harrison said. “Because once the summer comes, the season is just around the corner.”