WITH THREE games left, Jackson County is still very much alive to earn a state playoff berth and break a 20-year postseason hex.
But it’s going to take some big wins.
Because of that, one can expect to hear a familiar refrain from Panther coach Benji Harrison as his fourth-place Jackson County (4-3, 2-2) team faces Oconee County (2-5, 1-3) on the road Friday.
“For us, we say it every week but it’s the biggest game of the year so far,” Harrison said. “It’s a huge game for us. It’s got a lot of playoff implications in it. Our kids know that. We’ve got three games and we know what we’ve got to do in those three games.”
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. in Watkinsville.
Harrison believes his Panther squad is catching a Warrior team that’s quite rejuvenated.
Oconee County snapped a five-game skid this past Friday night, beating Franklin County 49-33 to claim its first win since the season opener.
Warrior quarterback Connor White threw four touchdown passes in the win while running back Ikwaan Jones ran for 199 yards and two touchdowns. Oconee County operates heavily out of the shotgun and White likes to take shots down field. His favorite receiving targets are Keenan Brown and Josh Hood. But the Warriors also have balance with running backs like Jones.
“Oconee — they’ve improved,” Harrison said. “They’re a scary team.”
Oconee County is very fundamental on defense, Harrison said.
“They’ve a very sound defense,” he said. “They don’t make mistakes and just try to play sound, base defense.”
Jackson County hopes for more offensive balance this Friday — the Panthers threw the ball 60 times (likely a Jackson County record) against Hart County — and better protection of the football. Jackson County turned the ball over four times against Hart County, with two of them being returned for touchdowns.
“It’s going to come down to more of us doing what we do than them,” Harrison said. “They’re probably saying the same thing about us. It’s about execution. I think whoever executes the best will win it.”
If that’s Jackson County, it will be a big step toward the Panthers’ postseason goals.
“Our kids know this is a huge game if we want to continue after 10 games,” Harrison said.
And make no mistake, the playoffs are where the Panthers have their sights. With three games left, their destiny is still in their hands.
“I tell our kids all the time, ‘you work too hard to only play 10,’” Harrison said. “Our goal from day one was to get into the playoffs. The great thing about it is that we’ve played good enough to still control it. We don’t have to rely on anyone else to do anything."
I hope you are a kid Sinidel, I have read all your comments and all I can say is, please show some class. Why Sindel do you feel the need to always degrade these boys? These are kids playing a high school sports. The majority of all these boys will be finished playing football once their senior year season is over and that is for ALL high school boys. Instead of always being negative why not be positive. I hope hope all the schools in the county make it to state, not just one school.
I have lived in Jackson County for the past 9 years. I would love to see Jefferson and Commerce play football with players that live it there city limits.Jefferson may make it to the 1st or 2nd round of the playoffs at best.