JACKSON County coach Benji Harrison wants his receivers to get plenty of quality reps this summer, and they certainly got a heavy dose of them Thursday.
The Panthers — who lost their top three receiving targets from last year (Xavier Harper, Ben Brissey and Layson Giles) — took part in Jefferson’s day-long 7-on-7 tournament, playing a host of pool games before reaching the second round of the single-elimination tournament in the afternoon.
That meant this year’s top receivers were tested by an assortment of different pass defenses all day.
“You can’t simulate that at practice — going against some really talented teams,” said Harrison, whose team went 4-7 last year. “For us, I think it’s probably more important than it’s ever been. We’re replacing a lot of receivers.”
But Harrison points out the value such a 7-on-7 competition has for both sides of the ball.
“For (the receivers) to get on the same page with the quarterback is huge,” Harrison said. “And I think, more importantly, it allows our defense to see a lot of different offenses.”
Jackson County starting quarterback Jacob Lewis was only available for two games during the morning session. Still, that allowed the other quarterbacks on the depth chart to get some much-needed snaps.
Harrison was pleased with how his team performed Thursday.
“I thought we competed pretty well,” Harrison said. “There was a little lull there in the middle where we hit a little adversity, but our kids responded. We came back and had a good afternoon session.”
The 7-on-7 camp featured some of the top teams from Gwinnett County and other surrounding areas. Harrison called the competition “great.”
“Obviously, you get to go up against some teams that are some of the better teams in Georgia,” Harrison said. “Whenever you get to go up against great competition, it does nothing but make you better.”
Jackson County has three more 7-on-7 tournament dates remaining on its summer schedule. The Panthers will compete in a tournament at the University of Georgia Friday before returning to Jefferson for another 7-on-7 tournament June 19.
Jackson County plays in its last tournament July 11-12 in a national select qualifier at Lassister.
“Hopefully, we’ll get more comfortable and be playing well when we go to that one,” Harrison said.
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