THE JEFFERSON Dragons (3-1) have been rolling through the competition thus far in 2013. With the exception of North Hall, the Dragons have outscored their opponents 144-10.
Jefferson’s most recent victory came last Friday in its first region contest of the season. The Dragons made it look easy, disposing of Greene County 55-10.
This Friday, Jefferson continues its region slate in what could be the game that decides the pecking order in Region 8-AA. The Dragons will head on the road Friday to face the undefeated Washington-Wilkes Tigers at 7:30 p.m.
Washington-Wilkes (5-0) comes into the game ranked as the number-five team in Class AA, while Jefferson is ranked one spot ahead in fourth. And like Jefferson, Washington-Wilkes has been destroying almost all of its opponents, outscoring its competition 218-52.
The Tigers’ offense has been dynamic all season, utilizing speed and agility to make big gains and go up on opponents quickly.
“They are very big up front and they are very athletic,” said Jefferson head coach Ben Hall. “They have the most speed we have seen and will probably be the fastest team we’ll see in the regular season. They do a great job of getting their athletes the ball in space and they’ve got four or five skill players over there that scare you.”
Washington-Wilkes sophomore quarterback DeAndre Harris has put the ball into the end zone with his arms and his legs this season. The Dragon defense will need to be prepared for a scramble anytime Harris drops back to pass.
“Their quarterback is very athletic and we are going to have to contain him. Their running back has also rushed for a lot of yards in the last few games. Our defense will have to focus on stopping the run.”
While the Tigers’ offense has been putting up gratuitous amounts of points, Jefferson’s defense has been stalwart. The Dragon defense is coming off a performance where it produced 10 tackles for a loss and created two turnovers.
“We feel like our defense had a great plan going in last week,” said Hall. “The coaches did a great job preparing the kids and we were aggressive – probably the most aggressive we’ve been on defense all year. Bottom line, our kids just played well.”
While the defense has been strong, Jefferson’s offense has been just as productive.
Junior quarterback Evan Shirreffs has passed for 953 yards and 11 touchdowns this season and Dalton Hill, Tristen Jackson and T.J. Skelton all have over 200 yards receiving. Jackson also has accumulated over 350 yards on the ground.
Hall believes establishing a running game will be key in moving the ball against a Washington-Wilkes defense that likes to show blitz.
“Their defense is very fast on all levels and they bring a lot of pressure,” Hall added. “We need to establish the run early to set up the passing game. If we can’t run the ball, we aren’t going to be successful.”
Last season, the Dragons blew out the Tigers 31-0 at home, but Washington-Wilkes still made a strong playoff run before falling to Calhoun in the second round.
While other potential playoff teams remain on Jefferson’s schedule – especially Rabun County – Friday night’s matchup between the Tigers and the Dragons will likely have a post-season atmosphere, and could ultimately decide the Region 8-AA champion.
“This is a game that you’ve had circled since last year,” Hall said. “Our kids understand the importance of the game. And obviously not over looking anybody else on the schedule, this is one of the premier games in the region and we know that. I think our kids will be ready.”
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