This year marks the 50th anniversary of Jefferson’s first-ever Region Championship in football. To honor the 1971 Dragons, the Jefferson Foundation is hosting an alumni night prior to Jefferson’s Region 8-AAAA opener against Flowery Branch on Sept. 24.
The alumni night will include a tailgate party at the fieldhouse. The party starts at 6 p.m., food and drinks are provided. The Jefferson Dragon mascot as well as cheerleaders and members of the pep band are slated to be in attendance.
The foundation is hoping anyone with a connection to the 1971 team attends the event. That includes players, coaches, cheerleaders, band members and managers.
The 1971 team is one of the best in Jefferson High School history. Not only did the Dragons win the Region 6-A Championship, but it was also the first JHS squad to reach the state playoffs. Jefferson ended the year with a 9-3 record. A midseason victory over Commerce sealed the Region 6-A East Championship.
In the postseason, Jefferson defeated Region 6-A West Champions Murray County to win its first region championship. The Dragons’ season ended one week later against Roswell in the first round of the Class-A State Playoffs.
The 1971 championship was the first of three region titles the Dragons won in the 1970s, though it was the only championship with the late Jim Lofton as head coach. Lofton left after the 1974 season and he later returned to coaching in 1979 at East Hall. Lofton retired in 1998 as head coach of Greater Atlanta Christian. He compiled a 233-123-8 record across 34 seasons, including a 70-28 record as head coach of the Dragons. Loften padded his resume with five region championships.
Assistant coach Jim Stoudenmire took over the Jefferson program when Lofton left and he took Jefferson to even greater heights. The Dragons won region titles in 1975 and 1977, and appeared in the state championship game each time.
The seniors on the 1971 squad left Jefferson with a 31-9-3 record and never finished a season below .500. The 1972 class outscored opponents 947-467. Other accomplishments include winning the Region 6-A East Championship in 1970 and a runner-up finish in the Region 7-B standings in 1969. Across their four years, the 1972 class went 19-2-1 against region or sub-region opponents.
The 1972 class was also the second in school history to go undefeated against Commerce (the 1971 class was also undefeated against Commerce).