It’s been just three years since the Jefferson High School football team got past the first round of the state playoffs. The Dragons fell to Buford High School 30-22 in the second round after going 11-1 overall and 9-0 in region play. The Dragons also made a second round appearance in 2008 against Lovett High School where they lost 34-24 and in 2007 where they were defeated 28-7 by Warren County High School.
This years’ team looks to have an easier path; so far their postseason run has been up against two teams that have losing seasons.
The keys to success against the Wildcats of Westminster High School will rely mainly on defense. WHS did not score more than 30 points against their opponents in the regular season but put up 34 against Pepperell High School, who finished the year 6-5.
Wesley Simonton and Kody McDonald will be playing with a chip on their shoulder knowing that this could be the last time they play at home and for Jefferson.
Head Coach T. McFerrin will have his troops well prepared but they must beware the wrath of the Wildcats who are looking to make history as one of the teams to make a deep run in the playoffs after finishing the season below a .500 average.
The playoffs are often noted as the second season; the regular season is non-existent at this point. The chances of the Wildcats of pulling the upset over the Dragons look to be slim to none but they are playing their best football right now.
The phrase “defense wins championships” has proven to be true in many instances. If the offense is hard at work and putting up points the defense needs to be busy making plenty of stops.
One prime example of this that was made public was the downfall of the University of West Virginia this season. At the start of the year, Geno Smith was on his way to earning the Heisman. The Mountaineers started out 5-0 on the season yet two things proved to be evident; the West Virginia offense didn’t have any problem scoring and the defense had trouble keeping their opponents from scoring. All of this madness unfolded when they hosted the Bears of Baylor University.
The Mountaineers won 70-63 but many couldn’t help but point out how terrible their defense is. As they moved into the tougher portion of their schedule, WVU plummeted in the polls and as a team. They are currently on a five-game losing streak. In the last three games the Mountaineers have put up 34 points or more; they have established the fact that they have a potent offense but their defense has been exposed in such a negative fashion.
This is why defense is so important; 34 points is not bad in numbers but their opponents were hard at work and embarrassed the WVU defense while the offense continued to work hard.
Jefferson hasn’t had many problems on defense and this is a team that learns quickly from their mistakes. It looks like such an easy day on the field when the Dragons shut out a team; they’ve done that twice this year. The Wildcats could experience the same type of havoc if they can’t find a way to contain Jefferson quarterback Bryant Shirreffs.
The Dragons like to put teams away early and if they do, don’t be surprised to see Evan Shirreffs under center in the second half along with the rest of the junior varsity squad. It seems like a gamble; if you’re up 35-0 any team can creep back in but McFerrin has a lot of confidence in his team, knowing that when they take the lead they will not relinquish it.