Jefferson Co. looks to take down Hazlehurst

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, October 19, 2011

FAYETTE — The Jefferson County football team took a giant step toward the playoffs last week with a 24-0 win over Prentiss. This week the Tigers will attempt to take down the top team in Region 7-3A and make a push toward a region title.

Jefferson County will travel to Hazlehurst Friday to take on an Indians’ team that is undefeated in region play.

“Hazlehurst is extremely fast and very physical, and their record shows that they have the best team in our (region),” Jefferson County head coach James Herrington said.

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The Tigers, who are 2-1 in region play, have already put themselves in great position to make the playoffs, and Herrington said now his team will reach for a higher goal.

“(With us) getting off to the slow start we got off to this year by dropping some games we dropped by a small margin, people had written us off, even our chances of making the playoffs,” Herrington said. “Now we are 2-1 here in October and tied for second with Franklin County and Hazlehurst left to play. It’s anybody’s ball game. We are still right where we want to be. Our goal was to win the (region), and we are more than in position to do that.”

Herrington said he knows Hazlehurst will be a big test for his team. Hazlehurst’s speed and experience at running back make them a tough team to stop offensively, Herrington said.

“We are basically working on tackling and being in position (this week),” he said. “Seventy percent of it on defense is being in the right spot and being able to tackle ball carriers.”

Herrington said for the Tigers to win they will need to focus on ball protection.

“It will definitely come down to the turnover battle,” he said. “Most of the games Hazlehurst have had they have had at least two defensive touchdowns. Their defense does a good job of forcing turnovers. It will definitely come down to taking care of the football.”

Jefferson County (3-6, 2-1) will go to Hazlehurst (7-1, 3-0). Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.

Wilkinson County at Crystal Springs

woodville — If the Wilkinson County football team could have avoided a slow start last week they could have been the team that handed Hazlehurst its first Region 7-3A loss of the season.

But the Wildcats struggled through the first three quarters and a late-game surge fell just short as they lost 28-20.

“We didn’t show up for three quarters,” Wilkinson County head coach Kenneth Brown said. “We acted like we weren’t even in the game. We really didn’t start playing until the end of the third, and at that time we had dug ourselves a hole that was too much to overcome. Our young kids didn’t give up and fought back, but I guess we just ran out of time.”

Brown said correcting that mistake would be key in this week’s game at Crystal Springs.

“We have to be focused and not just ready to play physically but mentally,” he said. “Hopefully we will be mentally prepared, because physically we are in good shape. We need to start early and get a good start. If we get a good start, I think we have a better chance to keep the momentum.”

Friday’s game is a huge one for the Wildcats. They need a win to stay in the playoff hunt, Brown said.

“We are striving to make the playoffs, and we need to win,” he said. “I won’t say it would be the end, but it would definitely be to our advantage if we can win this one.”

Brown said Crystal Springs would not show the Wildcats’ anything they have not already seen this season.

“They are basically pretty much like everybody we have faced all year,” he said. “They like to run the spread, and offensively their quarterback likes to do most of the work.”

Brown said offensively the Wildcats would just have to maintain discipline and carry out their assignments.

Wilkinson County (4-4, 1-2) will travel to Crystal Springs (4-4, 1-2), with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.