Jefferson County hosts Franklin County for homecoming

Published 3:45 pm Thursday, October 5, 2023

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FAYETTE — The Jefferson County High School Tigers will look to put their offensive struggles behind them when they host the rival Franklin County High School Bulldogs for homecoming in an MHSAA Region 7-3A battle at 7 p.m. Friday.

Franklin County fell to 2-4 overall and 0-1 in region play after a 44-20 loss to region newcomer South Pike High School in the Bulldogs’ homecoming game last week. In that game, Franklin County was only down 22-20 with just over 2:00 left until halftime after a 90-yard fumble return for a touchdown, but the Eagles scored right before halftime and ended up scoring the final 22 points of the game.

For the third straight week, Jefferson County’s offense continued to put itself behind the eight-ball, only to leave longtime rival Port Gibson High School with a 14-6 win to snap a two-game losing streak and improve to 4-2 overall and 1-0 in region play.

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“Early in the game, our quarterback (Jabari Watson) has been struggling. That’s what been holding us back,” Tigers head coach Roderick Holmes said. “And it can be corrected. The looks we were given early in the season when we were scoring all those points, we’re still given some of those looks. He’s been struggling a little.”

Holmes said that he doesn’t feel like the offense is letting the defense down, but at times the offense has been leaving points on the field. And the defense did its part to win games over Class 7A Murrah High School and Class 5A Natchez High School.

“We did come in thinking our offense would lead the way. But our defense has been leading the way,” Holmes said.

Now comes in a Franklin County team looking to get back in the winning column this week, but also avenge last year’s 30-28 loss at Jefferson County.

“They’re athletic. They do use a two-quarterback system. We have to prepare for those guys. But it’s a rivalry game. It’s our homecoming. I expect our guys to come in ready and focused on the game,” Holmes said. “Defensively, most of the time, it’s the front seven that concerns me the most. Defensive-back wise, they look like any defensive backs we’ve faced this season.”

One thing Jefferson County has to be concerned about going into this game is its depth. And that’s the main the Tigers have been working on in practice this week — on both sides of the ball.

“Last week, our biggest area of concern was our depth. We were down a few guys. Early in the game (at Port Gibson), we lost on of our key players. That’s what we’re working on this week,” Holmes said.

In addition to Watson, Holmes said that one of the Tigers’ key athletes, Royale Shelvy, will need to have a big game as well as Jaekwon Collins on defense if they are to come out victorious and stay undefeated in region play.