Jefferson County hopes to silence familiar foe Magee in playoffs

Published 1:08 pm Thursday, November 9, 2023

FAYETTE — For the third straight year, the Jefferson County High School Tigers will face off with the Magee High School Trojans in the MHSAA Class 3A South State Playoffs. But after two consecutive years of being the visiting team, Jefferson County will finally be the home team.

The quarterfinal match-up of the 2023 MHSAA Class 3A South Playoffs between Magee (4-7; Region 6-3A No. 2 seed) and Jefferson County (7-3; Region 7-3A No. 1 seed) will kickoff at 7 p.m. Friday.

Jefferson County scored 50 points in the first half en route to a 62-2 blowout win last Friday night at home over Region 5-3A No. 4 seed Southeast Lauderdale High School. Magee held on to defeat Region 8-3A No. 3 seed Perry Central High School 48-40 last Friday night.

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The Tigers will look to finally get over the hump and defeat the Trojans after coming up short the previous two years. Last year, even though Jefferson County was the Region 7-3A champion and No. 1 seed, it had to travel to Magee to take on the Region 6-3A No. 3 seed Trojans and were upset 36-26. 

In 2021, the same two teams met in the first round as the host and Region 6-3A No. 2 seed Trojans took care of the Region 7-3A No. 3 seed Tigers 47-6. Jefferson County head coach Roderick Holmes said he is glad the Tigers will be at home this time around.

“That (having the home-field advantage), too, can be a factor. Us playing at home in front of our crowd instead of having to go on the road,” Holmes said. “Last year when we left to go to Magee, it felt like we were already down 21-0.”

As for what it will take for Jefferson County to take care of business and defeat a Magee team that has had quite the up-and-down season, Holmes said, “For one, we cannot make mistakes. We can’t turn the ball over. We have to be disciplined. Last year, us being undisciplined alone cost us the game. We gave up too much momentum. What I mean by that is we gave them free yards with undisciplined penalties.”

Holmes added that the Tigers’ defense will have to force the Trojans into some three-and-outs and make them punt the ball — something that unit didn’t do much of either of the previous two playoff showdowns.

“We can’t afford to have them drive all the way down the field. We have to be way more physical than they are and we have to get some pressure on their quarterback. It’s a must that we be more physical than those guys up front,” Holmes said.

Holmes noted that as far as practice goes this week, the Tigers are doing what they’ve been doing all season long.

“We’re basically going over what we’ve been doing well all year. Cleaning up where we need to clean up. Not overthinking things. We just have to play some sound ball, that’s all. We can’t allow them to have any momentum. We have to take advantage of everything we have,” Holmes said.

As for what concerns him most about the Trojans on each side of the ball, Holmes said, “From the first year, they do have a different coach (Zach Jones – 2021), but they have the same coach they had last year (Chuck Maxie). The past two years, they’ve been more physical than we have. We have to be aggressive. We can’t be passive. They’re kind of balanced on offense, but they look to pass it a little more than they run. But I’ll say they’re balanced. They run a spread offense, majority one-back personnel. Defensively, I expect to see probably a five-front.”

Holmes didn’t single out any one or two players on each side of the ball or even any unit that needs to step up for the Tigers to defeat the Trojans Friday night. Instead, he said, “The whole team must step up. Everybody. I need all hands on deck. We cannot beat them with just one person. We have to beat them with a collective effort.”