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Region 7-3A: Jefferson, Franklin hit road

FAYETTE — It didn’t matter the distance, James Herrington would have been nervous regardless.

But the Jefferson County High School head coach said he was glad Kelvin Barnes’ 39-yard, game-winning field goal against Wilkinson County High School last week helped give his team positive momentum.

“When you kick a field goal, regardless of whether it’s 39 or 19 yards, if the outcome of the game hangs in the balance, it’s always a nervous situation,” Herrington said.

Herrington insisted, though, that Barnes’ leg was a source of confidence for himself and the rest of the coaches.

“We had confidence in him,” Herrington said. “If not, we wouldn’t have kicked it. Kicking field goals is a part of the game plan. The opportunity presented itself, and we seized it.”

The kick gave Jefferson County (4-4 overall) a 25-24 win in the final minutes, improving the Tigers to 2-0 in MHSAA Region 7-3A.

“It’s definitely a big confidence boost,” Herrington said. “Losing a lot of close games early gave us the opportunity to show our growth. There’s always a game during the season where you find out how resilient you are, and for us, (Wilkinson County) was that game.”

Jefferson County is now looking to secure the No. 3 spot in the region with a win at Prentiss High School (2-6, 1-1) Friday night. Prentiss runs the double wing offense, and Herrington said his players on defense would have to know their assignments.

“Anytime you play a wing team, assignment football will be a necessity,” Herrington said. “On offense, our guys have been taking care of the football and making smart decisions. Hopefully they’re peaking at the right time.”

Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. Friday at Prentiss.

Franklin County versus Crystal Springs

After an 0-2 start to Region 7-3A, Franklin County High School’s margin for error has shrunk tremendously.

The Bulldogs opened area play with losses to Wilkinson County and Hazlehurst High School the last two weeks, but head coach Ricky O’Quinn said his players aren’t shrinking under the pressure of needing to get a win.

“We’re down 0-2, which is tough, but our division is tough,” O’Quinn said. “Our team has character. We’ve bounced back before, and we will this year, too. Our kids our up, not down.”

The key going forward will be limiting turnovers, which is something O’Quinn said has plagued his team this season. Franklin County had three turnovers last week against Hazlehurst and two against Wilkinson County the week before.

“We haven’t been able to play through that like we should have,” O’Quinn said. “We will have to find a way to play through them Friday, but hopefully we won’t have any.”

The Bulldogs (4-4 overall) will travel to Crystal Springs High School (4-4, 0-3) Friday night.

“They have some guys that can really run,” O’Quinn said of the Tigers. “We’re going to have to get ready for that. Their offensive line is big, but it’s no different that what we’ve played against all year. That’s why we schedule tough (non-region) competition.”

Kickoff is at 7 Friday night at Crystal Springs.