The Jefferson football team has already conquered one Gwinnett County school his season, but this week’s opponent Mountain View present’s a bigger challenge.

The Bears are a Class AAAAAAA program that had grown accustomed to reaching the state playoffs before last year. 2020 was a rough year for Mountain View as it finished 1-9 and last place in Region 8-AAAAAAA (a first in school history). The Bears have already doubled their 2020 win totals with wins over Shiloh and Lanier.

The hallmark of this Mountain View team is its pass-happy offense led by junior quarterback Mason Kidd. He already has 743 yards with five touchdowns this season. Kidd is coming off a 287-yard performance against Lanier.

The bulk of Kidd’s throws go to senior receivers Justin Wilson and Sean Reese. Wilson leads the team with 14 catches for 307 yards with two touchdowns. Reese has 277 yards on 13 catches, 161 of his yards came Friday night, including a 63-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter which gave the Bears an eight-point lead.

The Bears also found a running game Friday night. After rushing for just 72 yards throughout the first two games, senior Meiki Williams picked up 115 yards on just 12 carries on Friday. Williams will also be a target in the passing game.

“Certainly they’re off to a good start this year with an impressive win the other night at Lanier,” said head coach gene Cathcart. “They throw the ball around really well. We have our work cut out for us on the road.

“They’re playing with a lot of confidence. They probably throw, catch and protect as well as anybody we’ve played so far. Rabun County has a prolific passing attack, this group throws and catches it every bit as well and efficiently so far…. We were well aware when we scheduled them a few years ago of the yearly potential this school has.”

Though Jefferson’s biggest challenge this Friday might be having to play all four quarters. The Dragons are coming off a pair of blowout victories in which Malaki Starks, Kadin Bailey, Sammy Brown and other starters all began to leave the field in the second quarter. Mountain View hasn’t been able to pull starters and it has had to grind out a pair of one-score victories.

“It’s been a luxury to play a lot of people and rest our key guys,” Cathcart said. “But at some point soon they’re going to have to play a full four-quarter game. We certainly think they’re prepared to do that.

“Some of them have not played much into the second quarter. It is concerning, but it’s something we’ll have to play through when the time comes.”

CATHCART AND RAY REACH 150 WINS TOGETHER

Head coach Gene Cathcart reached another milestone Friday night. He reached 150 wins in the season opener against Rabun County, but against Southside he reached his 150th win with assistant coach Ken Ray.

Ray joined Cathcart’s staff at Habersham Central in 2004 and the two have been together ever since. In the following years, Ray followed Cathcart South Carolina to lead the programs at Greenwood (2009-13) and Seneca (2014). When Cathcart took the vacant Jefferson coaching job in 2017, Ray came along for the ride.

“Coach Ray is one of the best that I’ve ever been around,” Cathcart said. “He’s affected so many lives in a positive way, as a teacher and coach. He exemplifies class, he’s a consummate gentleman.

“The amazing thing is his loyalty. That type of loyalty is so rare. He’s a very special and unique person. I’m blessed to have a staff right now that is second to none. They’re some of the best people and friends that I’ve ever had. But to be with someone as long as coach Ray and I have, I’ll never be able to repay him for all he and his family have done.”

Cathcart described Ray as the “good cop” on his coaching staff, saying Ray cleans up a lot of his messes.

“We used to joke that he is the ‘head coach calmer-downer,’ be he would argue that he’s failed at that over the years,” Cathcart said. “He’s had a career of giving kids rides and encouraging kids who get discouraged. He’s the perfect example of a difference-maker we should all aspire to be in this game we’re blessed to coach.”

Jefferson at Mountain View

Who: Jefferson at Mountain View

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Records: Jefferson, 3-0; Mountain View 2-1

Coaches: Gene Cathcart, Jefferson (fifth season at Jefferson, 43-9; 17th season overall, 152-51); John Poitevint, Mountain View (second season at Mountain View, 3-10)

What else: The Dragons enter Friday on a 21-game regular-season winning streak. Their last regular-season loss was the 2019 season opener against Oconee County. Jefferson has outscored opponents 829-158… Last year’s meeting was the first-ever between Jefferson and Mountain View, the Dragons won 40-7 at home. However, Jefferson is familiar with Lawrenceville having played Central Gwinnett five times (including a 42-7 win on Aug. 27), and Discovery twice. The only Lawrenceville school Jefferson hasn’t played is Archer.

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