JACKSON County coach Benji Harrison doesn’t expect a lot of bells and whistles this Friday when his team lines up against Athens Christian.
In a day and age of spread offenses, the Eagles’ approach is much more straight-forward — and very effective.
“They’re just a sound football team,” said Jackson Couty coach Benji Harrison, whose team is coming off a 28-6 loss to Jefferson. “They don’t do a lot of stuff that’s necessarily fancy. They just lineup and play football probably the way it’s supposed to be played.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Panther Stadium. Both teams enter this game with 1-1 records.
Athens Christian, which beat Banks County 22-7 last week, bases out of the I-formation and gives its opponents a heavy dose of power running. The Eagles totaled over 400 yards of offense in their victory over the Leopards.
“They want to run the football,” Harrison said. “That’s their deal. They’ll play-action pass and things like that, but their key is that they want to establish the line of scrimmage.”
Eagle running back Taylor Hardigree amassed over 170 yards on the ground in Athens Christian’s win, so the Panther defense will certainly have an eye on him.
“He’s who they want to do things around, and they’ve got a couple more running backs that will roll in there as well,” Harrison said. “But he’s the one, obviously, that you have to stop. That’s who they want to carry the mail all night long.”
Meanwhile, the Panther spread offense will go up against Athens Christian’s 4-4 defensive scheme that will also show some five-man fronts. The Eagles play a cover three behind that.
“If you’re going to beat them, you have to drive the length of the field,” Harrison said. “They’re going to try to take away the big play.”
Athens Christian’s defense includes a solid corps of linebackers.
“They’re smart football players,” Harrison said. “They know the assignment and how to play their gap responsibility.”
This is Jackson County’s final non-region test before opening 8-AAA play Sept. 21 against rival East Jackson.
The Panthers are coming off a 28-6 loss to Jefferson this past Friday. Jackson County trailed 7-6 late in the second quarter of that game before the Dragons opened the lead up in the second half.
“When ever you lose a game, you can’t wait to get back on the grass as fast as you can and put that game behind you,” Harrison said. “Our kids are ready.”
The coach believes his players have put that loss in the past.
“They can’t control it anymore,” he said. “All we can do is learn from it, that some of the things that happened in that game, just don’t let them happen again.”