Another week, another juggernaut for the Eagles.
East Jackson closed non-region play last week against the No. 3-ranked team in Class AA, Rabun County, and will open region play with No. 3-ranked program in Class AAA, Oconee County, Friday (Oct. 16, 7:30 p.m.) at home.
“It’s tough, but it’s a wonderful challenge for our guys,” East Jackson coach Cameron Pettus said.
Oconee County is off to a 5-0 start this year, having beaten Class AAAAA No. 5-ranked Veterans 14-6 last week. The spoil of riches on the Warriors’ roster is impressive, according to Pettus.
“They are absolutely loaded from top to bottom," Pettus said.
Jake Johnson, who his coming off an 845 receiving-yard, 14-touchdown season last year, is one of the team’s top receiving targets. Darius Johnson is another weapon. He totaled 120 yards in Oconee County’s win over Veterans.
The lines of scrimmage standout to Pettus, too.
“Their D-line and their O-line are very, very good,” Pettus said. “They play hard. They’re fast. They’re big. They’re strong.”
Defensively, linebackers West Weeks and Justin Coleman have wowed Pettus as well.
“They are some really outstanding linebackers, some of the best, probably, that I’ve seen in a while,” Pettus said.
In the secondary, the coach pointed to Whit Weeks as a talented, young safety, and Pettus added that the Warrior cornerbacks “are solid.”
The Warriors went 13-2 and played for a state title last year, but Pettus said Oconee County has managed to get even better.
“Us, our staff talking, it’s a better-looking team in my opinion, what they look like this year than they were last year, just as a team in general,” Pettus said.
At the same time, Pettus welcomes the challenge of this region opener. The second-year coach has expressed a desire to play top-flight competition as the Eagles try to grow their program.
“It’s good for our guys to see where they’re at and where we need to go,” Pettus said. “You’re not going to see that playing people that aren’t great.”
East Jackson enters this game coming off of a high-scoring, 70-36 loss to Rabun County.
But Pettus extracted a number of positives from that game moving forward to this week.
Quarterback Gregg Huggs threw for 219 yards, Marques Green ran for 118 yards and receivers Randy Smith (91 yards) and R.J. White (89 yards) both had big nights. White had a 90-yard kickoff return as well.
“The positives are that our offense is keeping to get better every week against better competition every week, which we’re definitely excited about,” Pettus said. “We’ve just got to do a better job defensively of tackling … Our kids are working hard at it on a daily basis, and we’re making strides.”