Jefferson County battles undefeated Murrah Thursday

Published 3:14 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2023

FAYETTE — The Jefferson County High School Tigers will have their hands full this Thursday night against the Murrah High School Mustangs in a battle of undefeated teams that should be several classifications apart.

Kickoff between Jefferson County (3-0) and Murrah (3-0) at legendary Hughes Field in Jackson is scheduled for 7 p.m. While the Tigers are in Class 3A in the Mississippi High School Activities Association, head coach Roderick Holmes said the Mustangs should be in Class 7A, the now-highest classification in the MHSAA for football, yet they are not in any region.

“That doesn’t concern me. Those numbers are based off the school size. That’s not the heart of the team,” Holmes said.

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Both teams have not only put up a lot of points, but their defense have shown up big time through their first three games of the 2023 season. Jefferson County is averaging 58 points per game while giving up just 14 points a game. Murrah is putting up 31 points a game while allowing only 13 points. 

The Tigers are coming off another impressive performance at home, a 56-13 win over the visiting Crystal Springs High School Tigers. The Mustangs took care of the Forest Hill High School Patriots 32-12 last Thursday night.

“We had a pretty good showing. Offense, defense, and special teams, all three phases played pretty well. Overall, we faced a little adversity in the first half. At halftime, we made some adjustments. The second half we followed through on our game plan,” Holmes said.

Holmes noted that he was most pleased with their kickoff return team. And special teams could be a factor in the outcome of this game. He added that his offense needs to get off to a quicker start and put points, specifically touchdowns, on the board early to put pressure on the opposition.

“Every game that unit has produced a touchdown. Going into the season, we wanted to emphasize returning a kick for a touchdown on punt returns and kickoff returns,” Holmes said. “We would like to establish our offense earlier. We punted the first two drives against Crystal Springs. We haven’t scored on our first drive all season.”

Holmes also said that Murrah will be Jefferson County’s toughest opponent so far this season. However, he said he ready for this challenge just two weeks left before the start of Region 7-3A play.

“This game will probably be our toughest opponent so far. I feel like we can match up with them,” Holmes said. “We opened up the season with a jamboree with Terry. We were able to match up with them. I do believe that this game will be a game that will prepare us for region play.

“I’ve already started to watch film on them (Murrah). We’ve been able to watch some tendencies they do on offense and defense. We’re going to try to capitalize off those tendencies.”

As to what concerns him most about the Mustangs on each side of the ball, Holmes said, “On the offensive side of the ball, they have a left-handed quarterback. They do have deep-threat receivers. On the defensive side, they’re pretty big up front. If we can level out the playing field up front, I think we can be okay.”

Holmes said in order for the Tigers to come out victorious and remain undefeated Thursday night, senior quarterback Jabari Watson will need to have a big game. So will Royale Shelvy and Jalen Johnson, who play on offense and special teams. On the defensive side, Jaekewon Collins in the front-seven and DeAnthony Miller in the secondary will have to step up and slow down Murrah’s high-powered offense.