By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Dragons ready for stiff challenge in Class AA title game
Placeholder Image

JEFFERSON — After a season filled with convincing victories, the Dragons will be a decided underdog heading into the Class AA state championship game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Calhoun (14-0) is the defending Class AA state champion and has been in the state championship game every year since 2008, while Jefferson (13-1) hasn’t been this far since 1977.

The Dragons aren’t, however, completely lacking in experience. Coach T. McFerrin is one of the winningest coaches in state history and currently has 316 wins as a Georgia head coach. He’s taken two previous teams to the state finals, and won the state championship in 1995 with Elbert County.

He said players from that, one of which is currently an assistant on his staff, still talk about their state championship win. That’s why he’s so happy to lead another team to the finals.

“It’s exciting to know you’re going to the Dome,” he said.

To get another win in the state championship game, McFerrin and his current team, the Dragons, will need to score on a Yellow Jackets’ defense that has posted four shutouts this season — allowing 13 points against per game — and defend an offense that has scored 44 points per game.

Jefferson has scored an average of 39 points per game and allowed 13 as well.

Both teams are also led on offense by dual-threat quarterbacks.

Calhoun senior and South Alabama recruit Taylor Lamb is 257-of-373 passing for 3,230 yards and 34 touchdowns with five interceptions, and has run for 423 yards and another 12 scores.

Jefferson senior Bryan Shirreffs is 160-of-249 passing for 2,181 yards and 17 touchdowns with six interceptions, and has rushed for 1,233 yards and 18 touchdowns on 154 carries.

Both offenses have more threats than just the quarterback, though.

“You can’t just focus on him, because they’ve got good players all over the offense,” Jefferson senior linebacker Wesley Simonton said of Lamb. “But we’ve definitely got to get pressure on him. We can’t just let him sit back there and throw.

Lamb’s favorite target is senior receiver Josh Barnes, who has 1,009 yards receiving. Tydus Curtis has added 897 yards receiving, and running back Alex Urbano has 1,279 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns.

McKay Dickens, who missed the semifinal game with an injury, leads the Jefferson receiving corps with 523 yards. Shirreffs is the leading rusher, but Sammy Williams has been reliable all season and has 867 yards and 13 touchdowns on 127 carries. Tristen Jackson has added 603 yards and 16 touchdowns.

The Dragons have only had 15 turnovers in 14 games.

Calhoun defensive back Donnell Anthony will try to challenge Jefferson’s tight grip on the ball. The senior has eight interceptions on the season to go along with a team-high 95 tackles.

Jefferson is led on defense by linebackers Simonton (181 tackles, 26 for loss and 7.5 sacks) and Kody McDonald (166 tackles, 13 for loss and four sacks).

The game will be the second meeting between the two teams. The Jackets, who had a fourth-straight undefeated season and haven’t loss to a team other than Buford since 2008, defeated Jefferson, 39-6, in the first round of the playoffs last season.

Calhoun also has a Jackson County connection. Coach Hal Lamb won a state title as a player at Commerce in 1981 playing his for his father, legendary Tigers coach Ray Lamb.

Friends to Follow social media