“It’s going to be a challenge all the way around — the offense, the defense, the kicking game, the whole deal,” Dragon coach T. McFerrin said. “They’re certainly the best team we’ve played.”
Jefferson (3-1, 1-0) hosts the Tigers (5-0, 2-0) Friday at 7:30 p.m. in a key Region 8-AA matchup.
“They’re a solid team,” Dragon linebacker Wesley Simonton said. “They do everything perfect. They have a really good team this year. They’re really big up front and have some good athletes and definitely a lot of playmakers.”
In the Dragons’ third matchup this year against a “Tiger” foe, Jefferson faces a pick-your-poison scenario. Washington-Wilkes can rack up yards through the air and on the ground.
“This is the first team that’s been really, truly two dimensional on offense where they run it and pass it equally well,” McFerrin said.
Washington-Wilkes — coming off a 36-0 win over Union County — is averaging 42.2 points per game in its five wins.
“They can do both (run or pass) either way — whatever they can hurt you with, that’s what they’re going to do,” Simonton said.
That’s due in no small part to some quality skill players. The Tigers operate out of the spread and feature a talented running back in Tomarkus Young.
“He cuts really well,” McFerrin said. “He’ll start in one direction and be able to cut and get into the hole and break through the line of scrimmage.”
Quarterback Buck Robinson, son of head coach Robby Robinson, directs the Tiger offense and is a dual threat.
The scary thing for Jefferson is that Washington-Wilkes is equally dominant on defense. The stingy Tigers have shutout three opponents so far and have surrendered just 12 points all year — an average of just 2.4 points a contest. Washington-Wilkes operates out a 3-4 setup and thrives on applying pressure in different ways and from different angles.
“They bring somebody almost every play it looks like,” McFerrin said. “So they really put a lot of pressure on you. It’s a penetrating defense that’s quick and got great athletes.”
The Tigers’ aggressive attacking style of defense will test more than the Dragon offensive line Friday night.
“Everybody really,” McFerrin said. “The O-line, the pass protection of the backs, the receivers being able to get open, all that stuff. It’s going to be a challenge.”
With the offense clicking and the defense stymying its competition, it’s been a special year so far for the Tigers, who beat rival Lincoln County earlier this year.
Washington-Wilkes, a traditional power that had slipped into mediocrity, is shooting for its first winning season since 2008 and first region title since 2006.
Jefferson, also in the region title race, is seeing its season starting to take shape. The Dragons rebounded from a non-region loss Aug. 31 with wins over two non-region teams before winning their region opener over Greene County this past Friday.
“We’re just a completely different team from week one,” Simonton said. “Like I said, that was a wake-up call. Then after that, we’ve just been getting better.”
But perhaps the toughest challenge of the season awaits Friday.
“If we want to win the region, this is what we’re going to have to do — start right here,” Simonton said. “This is just huge because it’s at our own field. We’re going to have a lot of support and it’s going to be wild.”
Washington-Wilkes at Jefferson
•When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
•Where: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson
•Last year: N/A
•Records: Washington-Wilkes 5-0, 1-0; Jefferson 3-1, 1-0
•Washington-Wilkes’ coach: Robby Robinson (10-6 at Washington-Wilkes, second season; 103-62-1, 15th season)
•Jefferson’s coach: T. McFerrin (28-9 at Jefferson, fourth season; 329-102-4 overall, 38th season)
•Last week: Washington-Wilkes 36, Union County 0; Jefferson 62, Greene County 26
•Series: Washington-Wilkes leads 10-2
•What else: Washington-Wilkes is one of the state’s winningest programs. With a 611-346-33 record all-time, the Tigers rank 11th in Georgia in all-time victories. Washington-Wilkes has won four state titles (all coming in the 1960s) and 16 region championships in its history ... This is Jefferson’s first meeting with Washington-Wilkes since 1969. Jefferson has just two wins in this series, coming in 1968 (21-14) and 1958 (13-0) ... Washington-Wilkes is off to a 5-0 start and has allowed just 12 points in those five games. The Tigers have scored 36 or more points in four of those five wins and have posted three shutouts this year ... Washington-Wilkes seeks its first winning season since 2008 ... With 62 points in its win over Greene County, Jefferson is coming off its highest scoring performance since 2009 when it beat Union County 63-28. Jefferson’s 62 points against Greene County equaled the Dragons’ point output for the first three games combined.
•What the coach is saying: “We’ve got our hands full now having to stop the run and the pass,” Jefferson coach T. McFerrin said of Washington-Wilkes’ balanced offensive attack.