Jefferson vs. East Jackson
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson
On Radio: 102.9-FM
JEFFERSON — Kyle Mosley doesn’t have any trouble putting into words how big Friday’s game against East Jackson will be at Memorial Stadium.
Mosley, a junior for Jefferson High, breaks out in a smile from ear to ear when he glances out over their home field, thinking about what the crowd will look like for a game between two undefeated programs on the final week of the regular season.
“I don’t think there are going to be any open spots, not even on the grass,” Mosley said. “I hope all we see is red and blue everywhere.”
Mosley has earned the right to get excited about this game against East Jackson (9-0, 8-0 Region 8-AA). He’s part of a Dragons (9-0, 8-0) defensive unit that has kept this team on course for a shot at back-to-back region titles for the first time in school history.
“We’re going for history in this game, so we don’t want to end up disappointed,” Jefferson senior Lucas Redd said.
Right now, Jefferson looks to be playing at its best on defense, which is based out of coach T. McFerrin’s pride and joy: the 4-3 scheme. In each of the past three region games (Banks County, Rabun County and North Oconee), the Dragons have surrendered only six points.
And when you factor in that Jefferson is averaging 40 points a game this season, it is easy to see why the wins have stacked up mighty fast in 2009 for the Dragons.
Using the 4-3 on that side of the ball is what the 30-year coaching veteran knows best from past experience. The biggest reason why the 4-3 is desired is that it frees up four defenders for coverage.
At Jefferson, that means that Redd can flourish in the secondary as a strong safety, where he leads the team with 72 tackles, instead of playing at outside linebacker in a 4-4 formation.
However, just because a system has been successful in the past doesn’t necessarily mean it will translate to a specific team’s personnel.
McFerrin said the success of Jefferson’s defense is a product of players’ ability to be versatile.
But McFerrin isn’t stuck in his ways. He’ll also switch it up with a five-man front from time to time.
“The way we do things works so well because we have guys that are all running to the ball,” Redd said.
McFerrin says that the defense was the driving factor in Jefferson’s win against North Oconee last Friday. Sam Loggins, Mosley and Zach Allen all finished the game with at least 10 tackles and the defense forced four turnovers.
Even when North Oconee got the ball inside the 10, the Dragons defense turned the Titans back and made them settle for a field goal.
“Our defense won the game for us last week,” McFerrin said.
“We take a lot of pride in our defense,” said Mosley.
Despite the overwhelming success on defense for Jefferson, it hasn’t always been an easy road this season, especially with regards to injuries.
The Dragons have found a way, however, to work through the loss of starters for periods of time on the defensive side of the ball, while finding new players that can work into the rotation successfully to fill the holes.
The biggest loss was when Allen broke his leg in Week 2 against Dawson County, forcing the lineman to miss four games, before making his return against Banks County.
During his absence, junior Hoytes Damons picked up the slack and eventually earned a starting spot on the line opposite of Allen.
“They’re two really strong guys that play well,” said Mosley, the starting middle linebacker. “That allows me to get in there and make plays.”
Mosley had issues earlier with an AC separation in his shoulder. He never missed any time with the nagging injury and is now second on the team in tackles (60) and has also recovered three fumbles for the Dragons.
Jefferson will need another solid defensive effort to win against East Jackson. The Eagles are a run-first offense, led by running backs Deon Sewells (929 yards, 15 touchdowns) and C.J. Allen (663 yards, 13 touchdowns). East Jackson has rushed for 2,725 of its 3,466 yards on offense this season.
Of course, the way the Dragons have played on defense this season, they welcome the challenge. Jefferson has only allowed 1,152 yards rushing all season, which breaks down to 128 yards per game.
“Everyone says that East Jackson has the best offense in the region,” Mosley said. “So we want to prove that our defense is better than some people say that we are.”