EAST JACKSON seeks a bit of season-ending redemption Friday as it concludes a trying season.
The Eagles (0-9, 0-6) take on Oconee County at home on Senior Night as the team hopes to avoid a winless campaign.
“For us, it’s five more days of us getting after it,” East Jackson coach Brian Smith said Monday, “and trying to do something we enjoy and trying to send our seniors off on Senior Night with a win and have a positive week so we can build on it for next year.”
Oconee County (2-7) has had its struggles, too, with a 1-5 Region 8-AAA mark. The Warriors have given up their share of points this season — opponents have scored 62 points or more three times this season — but have moved the ball, too, behind quarterback Connor White.
“Oconee, they love to throw the ball around,” Smith said. “They do a good job of it. They’ve been a little hit and miss at times, just like with us.”
Smith said White is a very good player.
“He’s solid in everything he does,” he said of the quarterback. “He’s just one of those kids who continues to develop.”
The Warriors also have a talented running back, Ikwaan Jones. Smith said the threat of the run or the pass makes Oconee County dangerous.
“They are good,” Smith said. “They run and throw. They’ve done a good job.”
The Eagles do not want a repeat of last year when the Warriors blanked East Jackson 35-0 last year.
“They handled us pretty easily last year and threw on us a lot … Hopefully we can get a little bit of pressure on the quarterback and do a little bit better job of coverage,” Smith said.
Smith’s team is coming off a 41-21 loss to Franklin County, a game in which the Eagles moved the ball but were unraveled by five turnovers.
Smith said he sees some similarities between his group and this Friday’s opponent.
“Oconee is a solid football team,” he said. “They’ve just kind of been through the ringer like us and Franklin (County). They’ve kind of had to play through things and had a few growing pains.”
East Jackson comes into this game a little healthier than it’s been in a while. Starting slot receiver and place kicker Austin Lumpkin did not play Friday against Franklin County due to sickness, but other than that East Jackson stayed fairly healthy throughout the game.
“We’re a little healthier than we’ve been but we’re still a pretty beat-up, banged-up team,” Smith said. “Not making it any worse was a positive for us.”