Jefferson County seeks to upset undefeated Wesson, create chaos

Published 11:08 am Tuesday, October 24, 2023

FAYETTE — Coming off a bye week to get the bad taste of the previous week’s loss at South Pike High School, the Jefferson County High School Tigers welcome the Wesson Attendance Center Cobras for a key MHSAA Region 7-3A game Thursday.

Kickoff between undefeated Wesson (8-0, 3-0) and Jefferson County (5-3, 2-1) is scheduled for 7 p.m. This is also the Tigers’ Senior Night game, so you know that they will be even more motivated to win for those playing their final regular-season home game of the 2023 season.

As for what the Tigers did during their bye week, head coach Roderick Holmes said, “We had a few injuries during that South Pike game. So we did some recovery type of things. We also did some lifting weights. We watched some film. Did some running.”

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Playing a Wesson team that is making its return to Region 7-3A after being in Region 6-3A the previous two years and before that down in Class 2A in 2019 and 2022 for Senior Night may not be the wisest of ideas. But perhaps Holmes may have figured that the Cobras would be in rebuilding mode instead of having no losses under their belt heading into what is now a big-time showdown with so much at stake.

“Looking at the film from the Wesson-South Pike game, Wesson had a turnover-free game. They capitalized on all their red zone possessions. That’s what we didn’t go against South Pike,” Holmes said. “If we capitalized on a couple of our red zone possession, we beat South Pike. Wesson doesn’t make a whole lot of mistakes. They’re got a well-disciplined team.”

Holmes noted that having a bye week last week actually helps the Tigers with them having a short week of practice this week to prepare for the Cobras.

“We watched film. So we’re trying to take advantage of some of the things we’ve seen. Clean up our offensive red zone possessions. Trying to get back on the winning track. Whether it’s a short week or a long week,” Holmes said.

As to what concerns him most about the Cobras on each side of the ball,” Holmes said, “Offensive side of the ball, they do a lot. It’s not just one thing they’re good at. They run the ball and the pass the ball. We can’t just say the run it a lot or they pass it a lot. They have a balanced offense. 

“Defensively, they really fly to the ball. We have to be prepared on offense to give them some mis-direction type of things. They’re going to stick to what they do. We have to stick to our identity and stick to our game plan. Sometimes, we try to go with something and if doesn’t work, we get away from it. We can’t do that.”

Holmes noted that 12 seniors on the football team will be honored probably before kickoff. He added that he will need everyone to have a big game if Jefferson County is to pull off the upset and enter the playoffs with momentum on its side.

“I can’t pinpoint a single person. Be focused as a team. We have to get this one as a team. I know I want to win (region), but I don’t want to enter the playoffs on a two-game losing streak,” Holmes said.

But now the big question mark will be whether the Tigers will be hosting a home game in the first round of the MHSAA South State Playoffs, which take place next week. That will depend on two things — Jefferson County must upset Wesson and South Pike winning at home against Port Gibson High School, which also takes place Thursday night.

Wins by both the Tigers and the Eagles will make the final standings in Region 7-3A more topsy-turvy than expected as both teams as well as the Cobras will finish 3-1 in region play. Then trying to figure out which team will finish first and second and host a first-round game and then third place and being on the road could be a sticky situation.

Especially considering that Wesson defeated longtime powerhouse South Pike at home 42-20 just last Friday night to keep its undefeated season going right along.

“I’m thinking about how it will go. If we lose, we’ll be the third seed. Winning, I think it comes down to points scored in a particular game. That’s it was given to me,” Holmes said. “If we win and we win by less than 10, we’ll be No. 2. If we win by 10 or more, we can be No. 1. We’re looking for a win.”