With the pads off in June, East Jackson’s offense continues to grow.
The Eagles have spent the month competing in pad-less 7-on-7 passing competitions running new coach Cameron Pettus’ spread attack.
“I think they’re just becoming more comfortable with what we’re doing and what the reads are, the exact route combinations and everything,” Pettus said.
The Eagles continue to divide snaps during 7-on-7s among a trio of quarterbacks: senior Hunter Hardwick and junior Gregg Huggs — both of whom have starting experience — and freshman Randy Smith, who is still learning the offense, but is a nice surprise, according to Pettus.
“I think all three of those guys are doing a really good job,” Pettus said. “I’ve been very impressed with how they’re doing.”
Talented skill players are helping with the growth process offensively.
Pettus said the versatile Caleb Adair is a special weapon for the Eagles. Adair is a running back but is also “a heck of a slot receiver” who can create mismatches on a safety or outside linebacker. Meanwhile, receivers R.J. White and Sean Cunningham have stood out with their ability to make plays on the outside.
Bryce Reeves and Luke Lindsey have also had good summers catching the ball, according to Pettus, and E.J. Fountain “has shown some good stuff.”
“We’re very fortunate because I feel like we’ve got a pretty good receiving corps,” Pettus said, “and then we’ve got a pretty good running back corps, too. So, I think we’ve got some weapons.”
On the other side of the ball, several defensive players have caught Pettus’ attention.
The coach praised young defensive backs Marquese Greene, Kahlil Watkins and Gary Mattox, along with Smith and Reeves. He also pointed to White, who has impressed him with his play in a hybrid linebacker-defensive back position.
“He has just thrived in that position,” Pettus said.
As for the results on the field, East Jackson’s 7-on-7 schedule has included a trip to the University of Georgia where the Eagles went 4-2, “which I thought was a very good indication that we’re definitely getting a lot better,” Pettus said.
East Jackson has not yet participated in a padded camp. Pettus wanted to hold off on those until July, noting that June is a big month for the team’s athletes who double as baseball or basketball players.
Pettus said one of the highlights of the summer has been how the athletic programs at East Jackson have banded together to allow multi-sport athletes to work with all their respective teams.
“I think that’s what’s been the greatest thing for me this summer is just us coaches working together to make sure that we can ensure that all kids are able to everything without killing them, without doing too much with them,” Pettus said.
Pettus said he’s heard “horror stories” at other schools where coaches weren’t as willing to share athletes.
“That’s not the case (at East Jackson),” Pettus said.
As for the rest of the summer, East Jackson will compete in a 7-on-7 competition at Athens Academy Thursday and participate in three padded camps in July, going to Buford (July 16-17), Greene County (July 18) and Stephens County (July 22-23).
“We’re going to treat those like mini-camps,” Pettus said of the padded camps, “getting us ready for the beginning of the season.”