The East Jackson football team enters senior night Friday (Nov. 5) with a chance to make history. Defeat Stephens County and the Eagles are in the AAA State Playoffs for the first time since 2009.

Since that storied 10-2 season in programs’ second full season, East Jackson (3-6, 1-3 Region 8-AAA) has just seven region victories. However, entering the last week of the regular season, the Eagles are tied for fourth place in the standings with Stephens County (6-3, 1-3 Region 8-AAA).

“This is an exciting week for us,” said head coach Cameron Pettus. “Obviously it’s a playoff week for us because we have to win to get in. Like I told our coaches and our kids, ‘the playoffs are starting a week earlier for us.’ We know we have to have a good game.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us, but we’re excited and looking forward to the opportunity.”

Pettus, in his third year at the helm, praised his senior class for buying in and creating the culture that has the Eagles in a position to snap their 12-year playoff drought.

“This senior class is just great kids,” he said. “They’ve established a good culture here where you show up and work every day and work hard.

“We’re just so proud of them and their ‘all in’ mentality, culture and work habits. They are wonderful young men. They’re leading this program exactly where we want it to go.”

However, don’t let Stephens County’s record fool you. The Indians aren’t a step below the three teams at the top of the region standings. Stephens County lost to region leaders Monroe Area by just 10 points and Hart County by two points. Last Friday (Oct. 29), the Indians lost to Oconee County 16-7.

The Indians have one of the best defenses in Region 8-AAA, allowing just 13.7 points per game with a pair of shutouts. The only team to score more than 20 points against their defense was Monroe Area who beat Stephens County 34-24.

East Jackson’s offense is no slouch though. The Eagles put up around 350 yards of total offense against Hart County last Friday (Oct. 29). Pettus believes the Bulldogs have the fastest defense in the region and despite losing by a large margin, he loves the growth on offense. That growth begins with first-year quarterback Tyler Crow.

“I’m excited to continue getting better on offense,” he said. “Our kids continue to make plays. Tyler Crow has grown so much as a quarterback, it’s amazing what he’s been able to do in such a short amount of time. I’m proud of him for taking over this responsibility and really just running with it.

“Marquese Greene has had a great last couple of games. Getting the ball in his hands is electric. We’re excited, we have to keep getting better.”

Stephens County also fields a dynamic offense led by dual-threat quarterback Ben Stowe. The junior has 1,277 yards with 11 touchdowns on 17-of-121 passing, and 176 yards with seven touchdowns on 65 carries.

Most of Stowe’s passes go to juniors Cam’ron Lacy and Corey Richie. The duo combines for 53 catches for 1,174 yards. Lacy leads the team with 29 catches for 795 yards and eight touchdowns, while Richie has two touchdowns.

Tyson Everett, a junior, leads Stephens County’s rushing attack with 771 yards with four touchdowns on 141 carries. Lacy is heavily involved in the running game with 118 yards and three scores on 22 carries, while freshman Javin Gordon has 292 yards and a pair of scores on 51 carries.

“They do a great job upfront and they obviously like to run the ball,” he said. “They like to play physically, I think their line is very well-coached. They do a great job offensively. They have enough playmakers, when they get the ball in their hands they can take it to the house at any time.

“We definitely have to play a lot better this week defensively…. We have to be ready to be fundamentally sound. We have to keep getting better like I’ve been preaching all year long. Each day we have to keep getting better and make sure we play our best on Friday.”

Stephens County at East Jackson

What: Stephens County at East Jackson (Eagle Stadium)

When: Friday, 7:30

Records: East Jackson 3-6; Stephens County 6-3

Coaches: Cameron Pettus, East Jackson (third season at East Jackson, 7-21); Wesley Tankersly, Stephens County (fourth season at Stephens County, 17-21; 14th season overall, 82-65)

What else: 2020 was the first time the Eagles and Indians met in football. Stephens County won 61-12.


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