JACKSON County has no plans to let its attrition at receiver slow down its aerial assault this fall.
The Panthers, coming off a 4-7 season, will lose the prolific Xaiver Harper as well as reliable targets Ben Brissey and Layson Giles but should have a number of options at their disposal with this year’s receiving corps.
“I feel good about this group,” said third-year coach Benji Harrison, who has guided the Panthers to consecutive state playoff berths. “I really do. I feel like we kind of have that mentality, ‘next guy in.’”
Because Jackson County was so senior laden at receiver last year, this current group didn’t get an abundance of reps. But the Panthers are using the current spring football session to see what each of this year’s receivers might offer.
Harrison expects that this could be Adrian Parson’s breakout year and points to Antonio Strickland as another good option.
Meanwhile, Austin Lewis “has come on really, really nicely,” Harrison said, after playing junior varsity most of last year.
Other potential targets are Kyle Clarke, the team’s backup quarterback, who is in contention for a starting spot at slot receiver, and Chase Wester.
“We’ve got enough (at receiver),” Harrison said. “They’ve just got to get polished a little bit.”
Receiver isn’t the only position getting a hard look this spring.
Jackson County took a hit at linebacker, too, losing two of its three starters with the departure of Evan Breakspear and Chandler Todd.
But Mason Williams has had a good spring so far playing middle linebacker, while Harrison stresses the importance of Griffin McElvery at the linebacker position.
“He has to be the leader of that group,” he said. “He’s got to have a good year for us. He’s got to lead that defense.”
Harrison also pointed to Micah Vincent, who is playing in Todd’s old linebacker spot.
Harrison said the spring season allows him time to evaluate players and get everyone transitioned into the Panthers’ summer program.
“For us, it’s a two-fold thing,” Harrison said. “We get to know our players and who can play what. And obviously, it gets our summer rolling.”
SPRING GAME IS THIS FRIDAY
Jackson County will hold its annual spring scrimmage this Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Panther Stadium.
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