East Jackson is coming off 28-0 dismantling of Banks County and is looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since winning three straight to begin the 2019 season.

This Friday, East Jackson travels to Elijay to play the Gilmer Bobcats of Region 7-AAA. Looking at recent records, the Bobcats look like a run-of-the-mill football team with an 8-13 record since the beginning of the 2019 season. Prior to 2019, Gilmer had three consecutive 0-10 seasons from 2016-to-2018.

However, looks can be deceiving. To get a better picture of the 2021 Gilmer Bobcats, look no further than the man at the top of the program, head coach Paul Standard.

Standard is in his first year as coach of the Bobcats, but he had a storied 20-year career at St. Pius X. From 2001-to-2020, Standard led the Golden Lions to a 174-72 record with eight region championships and two appearances in state championship games (2012 and 2014).

He’s brought his triple-option attack to Elijay and so far the Bobcats have scored 49 points through two games. The scheme revolves around quarterback Seth Darling and fullback Brock Titus, the duo shoulder most of the load in Gilmer’s smashmouth option game. Kobe Stonecipher and Will Kiker are heavily involved as well as slot backs.

“He’s first-class all the way,” said head coach Cameron Pettus of Standard. “You can tell he’s got their offense rolling, they played really well last week. They do a heck of a job running the triple option. Defensively we’ve got our work cut out for us.

“Their quarterback and fullback do a good job managing the game. You can tell they’re progressing too as the season goes on. It’s going to be a good ball game.”

East Jackson isn’t unfamiliar with a good option offense, the defense sees a similar scheme every day in practice. Because of that, Pettus says his defense already knows what to do against the option; staying disciplined and trusting teammates.

Offense is still the area the Eagles need the most improvement, especially in the passing game according to Pettus. East Jackson made some strides on offense in the lopsided win against Banks County, but a road trip to Gilmer presents a bigger challenge.

“They’re going to be ready for what we do, we just have to execute and do what we do,” Pettus said. “If we keep getting better each week, our offense will be able to move the ball. We’ve got to work and get our passing game going. It’s getting better every week, but that’s a point of emphasis. To Tyler’s credit, he did a really good job last week of managing the game.

“Their defense does a lot. They’re hopping in and out, doing a lot of different moves and shifts trying to get the offense confused. We have to make sure we stay disciplined… follow our blocking rules and make sure we execute. That’s basically what it boils down to.”

East Jackson at Gilmer

Who: East Jackson at Gilmer (Huff-Mosley Stadium)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Records: East Jackson 1-2; Gilmer 1-1

Coaches: Cameron Pettus, East Jackson (third season at East Jackson, 5-17); Paul Standard, Gilmer (first season at Gilmer, 1-1; 21st season overall, 175-72)

What else: East Jackson lost to Gilmer last season 28-19 at home, that was the first meeting between the two schools. The Eagles have had plenty of success against the north Georgia mountain schools. They have winning records over Dawson County and Rabun County, and a .500 record against Fannin County, Lumpkin County and White County.

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