Jackson County football coach Rich McWhorter doesn't mince words when discussing the challenge his team faces against Jefferson.
His Panthers (2-6, 0-4 Region 8-AAA) take on No. 8 Jefferson (7-1, 5-0 Region 8-AAA) Friday (Nov. 1) on the road at Memorial Stadium.
“Well, you’ve got the first-place team in the region versus the last-place team in the region,” McWhorter said. “There you go. They’re an excellent football team … They’re a team that’s geared up to make a run at a state championship. We’re a team that’s geared up to put the costumes up in two weeks. So, it’s not a good matchup at all for us going against them.”
Jefferson, which has won seven-straight games, clinched the Region 8-AAA title last Friday (Oct. 25) with a 26-7 win over Monroe Area. The Dragons’ triple option attack has rushed for a combined 806 yards the past two weeks.
“Everybody they’ve got is excellent,” McWhorter said. “All their players are excellent. They have great football players, every position.”
This will be the 10th-time these two crosstown foes have played. Despite the schools’ football stadiums being about a mile apart, McWhorter downplayed the rivalry when asked about it. The Dragons have won every game in this series, except one, by 17 points or more.
“To me, the definition of a rivalry is when both teams have a chance to win,” McWhorter said. “From what I’ve seen is, Jackson hasn’t had much of a chance to win, so I don’t see how it’s a rivalry.”
Jackson County, which fell to Franklin County 23-16 last Friday (Oct. 25), comes into this game with a five-game losing streak.
McWhorter reiterated the task his team faces in its short trip across town this week.
“To us, it’s a game, we’re going against much, much better players,” McWhorter said. “We want to try to make some good football plays during it, and we want to be able to execute some of our stuff. Last week, we weren’t able to, and this week, I don’t know. Like I said, they’re a first-place team in the region gearing up to make a state championship run, and we’re the last-place team in the region.”
FRANKLIN CO. 23, JACKSON CO. 16
The Panthers are coming off a loss last Friday (Oct. 25) in which Franklin County intercepted a pass and drove for a fourth-quarter touchdown to win 23-16 at Panther Stadium.
The visiting Lions (2-6, 2-2 Region 8-AAA) outscored Jackson County 10-0 in the second half in handing the Panthers their fifth-straight loss.
Jesse Whiting scored on a one-yard run in the first quarter, Tyler Wester added an eight-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and Ayden Griswold kicked a 25-yard field goal with six seconds remaining in the first half as the Panthers led 16-13 at the break.
Franklin County, however, tied the game with a 22-yard field goal with four minutes left in the third quarter and scored the go-ahead touchdown at the 4:23 mark in the fourth quarter.
The Lions controlled the ball and the clock in the second half as Jackson County only ran 16 plays in the final two quarters, four of which were negated by penalties.
“That left 12 plays that we could actually run that weren’t already penalized plays,” McWhorter said. “So that was tough.”
The coach also pointed to Franklin County’s physicality, saying his team “lost the hitting game.”
“It’s tough to win a game when you get out-hit,” McWhorter said. “They blocked better than us, they tackled better than us, and they took it to us.”