Tigers make history, fall short of State Championship
Published 10:17 pm Friday, November 24, 2023
FAYETTE — Noxubee County jumped out to a quick 36-0 lead in the first half and never looked back on Friday, ending a historic run forJefferson County, which had never reached the 3A South State Championship game before the 36-14 loss Friday night.
It was not the way Jefferson County wanted their season to end, but they have a lot to be proud of, said head coach Roderick Holmes. He told his players after the game to keep their heads up, focusing on their 9-4 overall record that took them deep into the playoffs.
On Friday, Noxbuee County got off to a fast start and Jefferson County never got out of the starting blocks. Jefferson County played better football in the second half and had to compete against a running clock. The Tigers ran out of time to mount a comeback but came out firing on all cylinders in the second half.
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“We didn’t even think about the running clock. We wanted to score as much as we could, as quickly as we could,” Holmes said.
Senior quarterback Jabari Watson threw two touchdown passes in the second half to cut into the lead and tried to create plays with his legs. His first touchdown pass found junior wide receiver Royale Shelvy. His second touchdown pass was to senior Luke Bolin. Holmes consoled him at the end of the game.
“I told him how good he has been all of these years. I’ve watched him grow,” Holmes said. “I told him I’ll be there if he ever needs anything. He felt like he had to put this whole city on his back. I wanted him to know it wasn’t all on his shoulders.”
Jefferson County’s fan support was incredible Friday night. The bleachers overflowed along the fence and then onto the sidelines surrounding the field. Holmes said the support had been great all year and he was proud of how well the county supported the team.
Senior linebacker JJ Claiborne, whose name was called several times for making tackles, said the fans had been great all year. He played for a season at Adams County Christian School before coming back to Jefferson County.
“It feels great being a senior to go this far. We didn’t get to where we wanted to go, but we still represented the city,” Claiborne said. “They have been supporting us for the longest time. It was great to play the South State game at home. It hurts to lose at home. We were one step away.”
Claiborne said he is not sure where he will play football next year but expects to make a decision on a college soon. He is interested in studying to become a truck driver or welder in college.
Holmes said he appreciates his seniors for all they have done. They pass on the torch to a strong junior and sophomore class.
“I was more than satisfied with how far these guys went through adversity. They came together and stuck with it. I’m excited for the future,” Holmes said. “I will have a lot of my core starters coming back. It is the upside in all of this. We will have seniors to carry the torch next year. THe future is bright.”