Jefferson coach Bill Navas is cautiously optimistic about his program’s jump to the ranks of Class AA. This is the first season that the Dragons have played outside of Class A since 1987.
The Dragons have also bid farewell to their traditional Region 8-A rivals like Prince Avenue Christian, Athens Christian and Athens Academy.
Now Jefferson turns its attention to playing in Region 8-AA filled out with last season’s champion Fannin County, Dawson County, Union County, Banks County and new addition to GHSA Riverside Military Academy.
Jefferson’s seventh-year coach feels like the key to making a ninth consecutive trip to the playoffs is to compensate for a lack of team size with speed in the spread offense.
"The key to our team is developing chemistry and playing hard," Navas said. "It’s just such an unknown, not knowing what to expect in a new region."
Jefferson has plenty of skill players to put up points.
Zac Crosby, a senior, returns after putting up 1,400 all-purpose yards last season. The Dragons’ wide receiver/running back/defensive back finished last season with 54 catches and three touchdowns. He injured his hand in an offseason car accident, but is expected to return early in the season, if only on defense in the first couple of weeks.
Sky Porter, a junior, is also expected to make an impact at wide receiver.
Virgil Appleby moves into the starting running back spot after rushing for 166 yards in the playoffs last season against Bremen. Appleby’s job is to replace last year’s leading rusher Tyler Hill, who finished with 1,166 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2007.
Jefferson returns a good group of offensive lineman with three-year starter Sasser Conner (6-0, 300 pounds), center Patrick Allen (6-1, 220) and guard Kyle Roberds (5-10, 185), who Navas describes as the hardest worker on the team.
Darius Minor, a junior, moves into the role of starting quarterback for the Dragons. Navas says that his new starting quarterback committed himself last spring to becoming a solid signal caller.
Navas feels that the strongest part of his defense is the secondary, led by Crosby and four-year starter Tab Martin, who finished with seven interceptions last season.
Navas feels like the Dragons have plenty of depth in the secondary and will be able to rotate players in and out regularly.
Linebacker is also a strong position with sophomore Kyle Mosely coming off a team-high 68 tackles as a freshman.
Allen and four-year starter Jay Fowler were each All-Region 8-A selections last year and add depth to the linebackers.
Conner and Roberds are the leaders on the defensive line.
Jefferson was almost always a lock to make the playoffs in Region 8-A, but that comfort zone is now a thing of the past. Still, the Dragons seem to have enough quality depth on both sides of the football to make another playoff streak a possibility.