JACKSON County coach Benji Harrison will be eager to get a look at a number of personnel units when the Panthers hit the field Friday for a dress rehearsal against Athens Academy.
The scrimmage game is set for 7:30 p.m. in Athens.
Harrison points out that Jackson County has new starters at two of the three linebacker positions with Griffin McElvery as the lone hold over from last year.
“We feel like we’ve got some good players in that group,” said Harrison, who enters his third year with the Panthers. “They’re just a little bit untested, so obviously we want to see how that group plays.”
Meanwhile, the Panther secondary is a bit injury-depleted right now with Jase Latty (cleared to play but will sit out), Chase Wester (out until perhaps mid-season with a shoulder injury) and newcomer Colby Cole (out four-to-six weeks with a broken hand) all out.
“But there are still some guys that are going to have to play a lot this year in the secondary so we’re going to see how they play,” Harrison said.
Offensively, Harrison wants to assess how the summer work of the quarterbacks and receivers translates in a game-type scenario. Star quarterback Jacob Lewis got in extensive work with his new crop of receiving targets over the summer but mostly in non-contact, 7-on-7 competitions.
“They’ve been together all summer, but now it’s a lot different on Friday nights, so we’re excited to see them,” Harrison said.
And as always, the progress of the offensive and defensive fronts is something Harrison will keep a close eye on. Jackson County returns three starting offensive linemen and two defensive line starters from last year.
“Those are what you hang your hat on on both sides of the ball,” Harrison said. “Obviously, you want to see those guys play well and compete.”
This is the third year Athens Academy, 6-4 a year ago, and Jackson County have scrimmaged. Harrison said his team will handle this week just as it would any game week with its practice schedule and daily routine.
While he certainly wants his team to compete well, Harrison’s main area of concern is emerging from the scrimmage injury-free and getting snaps for as many non-starters as possible.
“Yeah, we want to be competitive, and yeah we want to see where we’re at, but it is a scrimmage and we don’t want to get anybody hurt,” he said. “We’ll play our starters some, but it’s going to be a lot of reserve guys playing on Friday night.”
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