JACKSON County head coach Benji Harrison gave his players about 48 hours to get it out of their system.
The Panthers suffered a disappointing loss to Madison County this past Friday, squandering a 21-7 halftime lead due in large part to four second-half turnovers. But by Labor Day morning, it was time to get back to work at practice.
“I told them they had the weekend to kind of mope around a little bit,” Harrison said. “But I think they’ll bounce back. They know you have to. They know we have another good football team coming in here.”
The good football team that Harrison refers to is White County, a Class AAAA program that will visit Panther Stadium Friday. The Warriors went 9-3 a year ago.
“After Friday night, coach Harrison was just like, ‘We’ve just got to come together as a team and focus on next week because we can’t — like last year — let one loss turn into two or three,” Jackson County safety Jase Latty said. ‘So we’re just focusing on White County, and we’ve just got to come and play.”
White County is a team that won’t rely on finesse, according to Harrison.
“A very physical team — a lot like Madison County in the fact that they’re very physical,” Harrison said. “But I feel like our guys will be focused and know it’s a big game for us.”
White County, coached by Bill Ballard who enjoyed lots of success at Tucker and Peachtree Ridge, runs a methodical ground-and-pound offense aimed at hogging time of possession and keeping the opposing offense off the field.
“They’re happy with getting three yards a play and going for it on fourth down and short,” Harrison said.
The coach stressed that his team must make the most of its opportunities with the ball.
Defensively, the Warriors, who lost 42-34 to Pickens County, bring a lot of pressure defensively to try to force teams into mistakes.
“They’re good,” Harrison said. “Both the offense and defense complement each other well.”
This is the second of four non-region games for Jackson County to prepare it for the Region 8-AAA schedules.
The two schools have only played four times in their histories (the series is tied 2-2). Harrison said he knew the kind of hard-nosed reputations Ballard’s teams had, so he scheduled this game.
“I thought it would be a good test for us because they’re really physical and we play in a really physical region,” Harrison said.
NOTES: Quarterback Jacob Lewis, who rolled his ankle in the Panthers’ loss to Madison County, is expected to play Friday against White County, though his practice schedule this week may be a little limited.
“We’ll be smart with him,” Harrison said. “He’s played a lot of football, so mentally, he’ll get all the reps he needs this week and physically he’ll be ready to go on Friday.”
Harrison said the injury “looked pretty nasty on film.”
“We were fortunate it wasn’t worse than it was,” he said.
Besides the injury to Lewis’ ankle and lineman Tristin Denton having minor issues with his shoulder, Jackson County emerged from this past Friday’s game otherwise unscathed as far as injuries.