Jackson County coach Rich McWhorter said he hopes his team both practices with and plays for pride this week with its postseason fate seemingly decided.
The Panthers (3-6, 2-4 Region 8-AAAAA) host 2-7 Apalachee Friday (Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m.) in their regular season finale.
“I want us to have a great week and even shoot for our best week,” McWhorter said.
The coach said his team has played hard in all its games, which he pointed to as the biggest improvement from last year.
“Every game we played, we were right with everybody for a long time, then athleticism took over and speed took over,” McWhorter said.
McWhorter said last week’s 26-12 loss to Greenbrier “sealed our fate as far as the playoffs.” Asked about the potential of playing itself into a three-way tie for fourth-place in the region with a win and a Loganville loss, McWhorter said he had not looked into tiebreaker scenarios.
“I haven’t even looked into it, and I probably really won’t,” he said. “Everything we’re doing is all about trying to be successful this week versus Apalachee.”
The coach said Apalachee bears no resemblance to a team five games below .500. McWhorter said the Wildcats are much better than their 2-7 mark.
“I can’t get over the fact when I watch them that I’m not looking at a playoff football team … but that just happens,” McWhorter said. “But they’re a very, very well-coached team and they play hard and they’ve got some very nice players.”
Apalachee operates out of the run-oriented Wing-T, but can move the ball through the air, even prolifically at times. Quarterback Todd Jones threw for 403 yards against Greenbrier on Oct. 16.
In addition to a regular-season ending win, also at stake Friday night for Jackson County is a 1,000-yard season for Panther running back La’Travious Ransom, who ran for 203 yards last week against Greenbrier. Ransom has 986 yards on the year despite missing one game.
Not only would the accomplishment be noteworthy for Ransom, it would be a testament to the offensive line, McWhorter said.
“They’ve done a great job all year, and it’s a big group,” he said. “It’s a prideful group, and they would love to see Tra (reach 1,000 yards).”
Meanwhile, a win would honor the program’s seniors, whom McWhorter praised.
“I know that them and us, we were hoping for a better record this year … but that doesn’t diminish the fact that it’s a great group of guys, and they’ve really worked hard,” he said.