Jackson County is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Clarke Central in what could have been the biggest upset in school history.
But while the loss stings, it does display how tight Region 8-AAAAA is. An upset win over the Loganville Red Devils would put the Panthers firmly in the hunt for a playoff spot and possibly a region title.
However, the keyword is “upset.” Loganville (3-2, 2-0 Region 8-AAAAA) is one of the better teams in the region and it’s currently tied for first place in the standings. The Red Devils have also had Jackson County number for years. The Panthers lost to Loganville at home last year 47-7, and they haven’t beaten Loganville at all since 1996.
What makes Loganville so good is its stout run game. Five rushers have at least 128 yards this year. The leading rusher is senior Avery Hamilton with 58 carries for 363 yards and three scores. Fellow senior Cooper Kennedy isn’t far behind with 225 yards on a mere 19 carries with two scores.
Juniors Davis Roesler and Solomon Leslie, and senior Jaylin McCray are the other rushers Loganville utilizes very well. The trio combines for 486 of Loganville’s 1,136 rushing yards this season.
Kennedy and Roesler happen to be the Red Devils’ quarterbacks, though they don’t throw the ball very often (only 23 attempts this year between them). However, when they do pass the ball, they typically create explosive plays. Loganville averages 20.7 yards per catch.
Most of the passes have gone towards junior Perron Rogers Jr. He leads the squad with seven catches for 139 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Jzon Hawkins adds four grabs for 106 yards and one score.
Scoring defense is where Loganville has struggled. Excluding last week’s shutout win over Johnson, the Red Devils are allowing 27.75 points per game. Every opponent except Johnson has scored at least 27 points on Loganville.
That should excite a Jackson County (2-3, 0-2 Region 8-AAAAA) offense that regained its mojo in the loss to Clarke Central. The Panthers scored 30 points and had 432 yards of total offense. Connor Bejin torched the Gladiators defense for 320 yards on 16-of-22 passing with a pair of scores. He, and running backs Tre Ransom and MJ Spurlin combined for 110 rushing yards.
Jackson County at Loganville
Who: Jackson County at Loganville (Red Devil Stadium)
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Records: Jackson County 2-3; Loganville 3-2
Coaches: Rich McWhorter, Jackson County (third year at Jackson County, 9-16; 32nd year overall, 297-95-2); Brad Smith, Loganville (second year at Loganville, 8-8)
What else: Prior to the opening of East Jackson High School and Jackson County’s subsequent drop in classification, the Panthers had a small rivalry with Loganville. The two schools played all but two years between 1992 and 2007. The Panthers and Red Devils also met every year from 1982-to-1989. Loganville leads the all-time series 17-6. Jackson County’s most notable wins came during its region playoff runs in 1986 and 1992.