FOR THE first time since 2009, Jefferson gets a home state playoff game.
This year’s seniors were just mere frosh the last time that happened, so the older Dragon players are happy for the chance to play at Memorial Stadium in a postseason setting.
“It’s good to be playing at home in the playoffs senior year,” senior receiver McKay Dickens said. “Home field advantage — it’s a great stadium here. It’s good to have it.”
Jefferson will make its 12th state playoff appearance in the last 14 years when it welcomes Kendrick, a Region 5-AA team out of Columbus. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Dragons’ last home game in the playoffs came three years in a second-round loss to Buford.
Jefferson — the Region 8-AA champions — has faced little resistance as of late, having won nine in a row and its last seven games by 28 points or more. The Dragons haven’t played a competitive game since Sept. 14 against North Hall, a 27-21 win.
Jefferson’s starters haven’t played in the second halves of some of these games.
“In a way it’s bad, but at least we’re healthy — not playing the whole game,” Dickens said. “But we’re ready. We’ll be ready.”
Jefferson closed the regular season with a 42-7 domination of Union County to become only the 12th Dragon team in school history to win at least nine games. The Dragons also clinched an unbeaten season in region play with the win.
“I think we took care of our business well the other night … They had some good looking players,” Jefferson coach T. McFerrin said.
Jefferson will face a Kendrick team that won five of its last seven games to clinch a playoff spot following an 0-3 start. The Cherokees’ size on the offensive front stands out most to McFerrin.
“On offense, they’re huge,” he said. “Their line is really big and pretty darn good.”
Behind that strong offensive front, Kendrick operates out of the wishbone, but not in the conventional sense. The Cherokees use a power running game primarily rather than an option attack.
McFerrin said Kendrick will “run right at you,” but can throw the ball if needed.
“They’re a power running team but the quarterback can throw and a lot of times it’s a vertical (route),” he said.
Defensively, Kendrick bases out of a 4-4 but likes to move players around. The Cherokees also like to play pure man-to-man coverage as well as press coverage, which could pose problems for the Dragons.
“We haven’t seen that all year long,” McFerrin said.
Jefferson will host by virtue of having the no. 1 seed out of Region 8-AA. That’s especially important in this game as Kendrick faces a long drive and the Dragons don’t. McFerrin feels this is an advantage.
“Gosh yeah,’ he said. “They’ve got a three-hour drive and we get to play at home. That’s huge.”
Naturally, there should be excitement among the Dragon players in getting to play at home for round one.
“It should,” McFerrin said. “If that doesn’t get them excited, I don’t know what will.”