I I I I PHOTOS I I
Jefferson High School Dragons 2011 schedule and game-by-game results
Coach Tom T. McFerrin Date Day Home/Away Opponent Score
8 - 26 - 11
41 - 14
9 - 02 - 11
38 - 28
9 - 09 - 11
42 - 14
9 - 16 - 11
57 - 29
9 - 30 - 11
28 - 38
10 - 07 - 11
48 - 13
10 - 14 - 11
0 - 14
10 - 21 - 11
31 - 14
10 - 28 - 11
35 - 7
11 - 04 - 11
Region Play-in Game
21 - 10
| 11 - 11 - 11||Friday ||At Calhoun |
| 6 - 39|
Jefferson swatted by Calhoun, 39-6 - Closes season
at 8 - 3
CALHOUN -- Jefferson 's postseason misery continued Friday as No. 2 Calhoun handed the Dragons their 13th consecutive road playoff loss in the last 34 years, a 39-6 victory in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs.
Bryant Shirreffs connected with McKay Dickens on a 5-yard pass in the third quarter for Jefferson 's only score of the evening. Shirreffs completed 20 of 29 passes for 254 yards, 151 of which came in the first half. Will Puckett had six catches for 107 yards. Jefferson , which managed 351 yards of offense, was led on the ground by Tristen Jackson, who ran for 44 yards.
Calhoun (11-0) rolled up 399 offensive yards, despite the play of Jefferson defensive end Carson Newman, who recorded 10 tackles. Newman has posted 10 or more tackles in the Dragons' last six games.
After consulting the halftime statistics, it would have been hard to imagine Jefferson being down 22-0. The Dragons amassed 13 first downs, ran up 228 yards of offense and was in the Yellow Jackets' red zone four times.
But four first-half turnovers went a long way toward digging a deep hole from which the Dragons could not escape.
The Yellow Jackets will play Brooks County on Friday. Jefferson 's season ends at 8-3. ``
Jackson keys Dragons' new running game
Published Friday, November 11, 2011Jefferson running-back Tristen Jackson (30) is tackled Commerce linebacker Josh Swistak (47) by at the game at Jefferson Memorial Stadium on Friday, August 26, 2011.
JEFFERSON — Jefferson’s offense has gone through a metamorphosis since the beginning of the season.
The Dragons have moved from a pass-first philosophy to a run-now orientation built around diminutive sophomore Tristen Jackson.
“Toward the beginning of the season, we were passing a lot and I was catching a lot out of the backfield and blocking,” Jackson said. “But as the season went on, we were using the ground game more and I was getting more carries. When you get the ball in your hand, you get a lot more chances to make plays and help your team out.”
Jefferson (8-2) travels to Calhoun (10-0) for a first-round Class AA playoff game kicking off at 7:30 p.m. The winner advances to the second round to face the winner between Brooks County and Tattnall County next week.
Although Jefferson goes into the playoffs as a No. 4 seed and faces a daunting task of traveling to the No. 2-ranked team in the state, Jackson likes his team’s position compared to last year when the Dragons failed to make the playoffs.
“This feels really good, just knowing you get an extra week of your season to play more football,” Jackson said. “Even though we’re a four seed, we still have a lot of confidence going into the game and we feel like we’ve got a really good chance at beating Calhoun.”
Jackson began the season as a fullback who didn’t get many carries as the Dragons emphasized passing by quarterback Bryant Shirreffs. But injuries and a need to help the defense forced changes in the backfield and Jackson emerged. Leading rusher Drequn Sewell took more snaps at safety, which opened some carries.
“About the fifth or sixth game of the season, we had to make some adjustments,” Jefferson coach T. McFerrin said. “We needed to shore up our defense and get some more speed on defense. Tristen was an undersized fullback and we didn’t want him blocking 240-pound linemen. So we moved a bigger fullback in there, Kamen Johnson and Kamen is about 215 (pounds). He got better and better as a blocker and we wound up with Tristen running a lot, and it’s worked out good. He’s done a good job for us.”
Jackson has 130 carries for 929 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He stands about 5-foot-7 and weighs 190 pounds, so he hits the hole like a bowling ball.
“He’s short, but he’s well put-together,” McFerrin said. “He doesn’t have the great speed, but he’s really smart and he runs the creases well. He’s really good at running with his eyes, making the right cuts. He’s really been good at making cuts and seeing the hole. He’s a tough runner and breaks a lot of tackles.”
Jackson goes through the hole with authority and his stocky build doesn’t give defenders many handles to grab. He has enough power to run through most arm tackles, so defenders have to square up to take him down.
“I’m not the fastest guy out there, so I try to break a lot of tackles and get away as fast as I can,” Jackson said. “I don’t want anybody to get me with an arm tackle. I usually run right through them. It feels really good to know somebody’s trying to bring you down, but you just keep on fighting for extra yardage. When you see it open, you feel like you just want to keep running.”
Jefferson will have its hands full with Calhoun, which has lost just two games the past three seasons.
“They are good, really good,” McFerrin said. “They’re not ranked No. 2 for nothing. We’re going to have to watch everything they do, I mean everything. They’re one of those teams that doesn’t have a weakness.``
Jackson, Newman lift Jefferson over Dawson County
DAWSONVILLE — Jefferson jump-started its running game with key halftime adjustments and capitalized on five Dawson County turnovers to beat the Tigers for the second time this season on their home field, 21-10, Friday night.
The Dragons (8-2) advanced to the state playoffs as the fourth seed out of Region 8-AA and will play at Calhoun (No. 1, Region 7-AA) next week. But getting there wasn't easy.
After manhandling the Tigers 42-14 in early September, Jefferson found a much tougher opponent Friday. The Dragons, who led 35-0 at half of the first meeting, trailed 10-7 at intermission in the rematch.
Dawson County got a short Zack Martin touchdown run and 26-yard field goal from Max Muldoon to grab the lead. The Tigers then used a remarkable goal-line stand at the end of the second quarter to preserve the halftime advantage.
With a minute left in first half, Jefferson had six cracks from inside the Dawson 7-yard line and was aided by two pass interference penalties, but couldn't punch it in before time expired as Dragon quarterback Bryant Shirreffs was trying to spike the ball to kill the clock.
Jefferson's lone score of the first half came on wild play, with linebacker Carson Newman intercepting a Tyler Dominy pass that was broken up by a big hit by Andre Daniel. The ball popped out of the receiver's hands, with Daniel's help, and went right to Newman, who scampered 34 yards for a touchdown.
The Dragons had just 84 offensive yards in the first half; leading rusher Tristen Jackson had only 9.
Martin had 79 in the first half alone for the Tigers.
But the tide turned in the second half.
Jackson scored twice in the third quarter on runs of 3 yards and 1 yard and finished with a game-high 139 yards rushing.
While the Jefferson offense was finding its stride, Dawson County was backfiring. The Tigers' first four drives of the second ended with a turnover. That proved too much to overcome.
"I really felt like we had a chance, but we just made some costly mistakes," said Dawson coach Jeff Lee, whose Tigers finish at 5-5, 4-2 in region play and missed the playoffs for a seventh straight year. "We've worked hard all season and had to overcome a lot early. And we did, and what you saw tonight is an improved product."
Lee also believes the second-half improvement, which saw the Tigers win three straight to reach Friday's play-in game, sets the stage for a promising next season.
Dawson County will return the core of its team, highlighted by Martin, who carried the ball 28 times for 137 yards on Friday, as well as Dominy and leading receiver Bruce Clark.
"(Martin) just kept breaking tackle after tackle," said Dragons coach T. McFerrin, who made sure to shake Martin's hand and congratulate him after the game. "I didn't know he was a junior."
McFerrin is in the playoffs for the 26th time in his illustrious coaching career in Georgia, which dates back to 1968.
DAWSONVILLE -- Jefferson 's Tristen Jackson scored two second-half touchdowns Friday as the Dragons posted a 21-10 come-from-behind victory over Dawson County.
Tristen scored twice in the third quarter as Jefferson , which trailed 10-7 at the half, improved to 8-2 overall.
The Dragons' first score came in the opening quarter when Carson Newman recovered a Dawson County fumble and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown. A defensive end, Newman recorded 17 tackles, the fifth consecutive game where he's had at least 15 tackles.
Jefferson , the No. 4 seed from Region 8-AA, will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Calhoun. `
Meaningful rematch: Jefferson coach wary of much improved Dawson County in take two vs. Tigers
Wet weather doesn't slow down Dragons
COMMERCE -- When conditions are better suited for duck hunting than football, the team that can maintain momentum on the ground usually wins.
Jefferson rolled out its option offense and powered its way to a 35-7 victory against East Jackson during a steady rain on Friday at Eagle Stadium.
The Dragons pounded out 316 rushing yards, including 164 by Tristen Jackson and four touchdowns by quarterback Bryant Shirreffs, to solidify their grasp on the No. 3 spot in Region 8-AA South.
"We've kind of evolved to be more run-oriented," Jackson said. "At the first of the season, we were kind of pass-oriented, but then we found out we could run the ball really well, too. Our line got confident and they started blocking extremely well."
The game started under a heavy drizzle, but deteriorated into a steady rain as the night progressed. Footing became more slippery, but that did not affect the Dragons drastically as they scored five rushing touchdowns.
"It didn't really bother me too much," Jackson said. "When it's raining like this, you know if you're a running back, you're going to get the ball a lot."
Jackson ran 20 times for 164 yards and a touchdown. Shirreffs ran 11 times for 78 yards and four touchdowns. Shirreffs only threw eight passes, completing four for 54 yards.
"I thought Bryant did a great job reading the option," Jefferson coach T. McFerrin said. "It was the first time this season we've run a lot of option. We've had it all season, but we saw something they did on defense, so we decided to run it tonight. It's the same thing I've been running for 40 years, but I think it might have caught them by surprise tonight."
East Jackson moved the ball well on the ground with 195 yards, led by C.J. Allen, who had 86 yards on 19 carries. But the Eagles also lost three fumbles and two of those helped set up Jefferson touchdowns.
The Dragons scored three touchdowns in the second quarter, all by Shirreffs, to take a 28-7 halftime lead. They ran for 98 first-half yards and took control of the game.
"They did pretty good with the running game," East Jackson coach Brian Smith said. "I think the rain probably made them pretty good at running and we kind of made them a little better, too, with the things we did. We missed some tackles. But they're a solid football team."
The game turned when Jefferson scored twice in the last 3:10 of the first half. Jefferson drove the length of the field for the first score on a 15-yard option keeper by Shirreffs that gave the Dragons a 21-7 lead with 3:10 left in the half.
"I think that was the turning point," McFerrin said. "That was when we were able to get control of the momentum and we were able to put some distance in the game. That was big to go into the locker room up three touchdowns."
Two personal foul penalties by East Jackson helped the Dragons move 78 yards in five plays. Shirreffs ran 12 yards for his fourth touchdown of the first half to push the Dragons' advantage to 28-7 at halftime.
"They got two quick touchdowns there at the end of the half," Smith said. "We got some penalties with our mouth, with our seniors running their mouths on senior night and it hurt us. It killed us. I'm disappointed in that part of it."
Dragons defeat Jackson County 31 - 14
October 21, 2011
JEFFERSON — It wasn’t necessarily pretty at times, but Jefferson did what it needed to keep its postseason dreams alive Friday, putting forth a strong defensive performance to beat cross-town rival Jackson County 31-14 on the Panthers’ field.
Jefferson (6-2, 3-2 Region 8-AA South) kept pace with sub-region co-leaders Elbert County and North Oconee, who both won Friday. While the Dragons can’t finish higher than third in the sub-region, coach T. McFerrin said his squad could potentially nab the fourth and final ticket out of the region by beating East Jackson in a week and then knocking off a crossover opponent in the region play-in Nov. 4.
“We’ve got to win out. We’ve got to keep winning,” McFerrin said after Friday’s game. “The best we can do is go as a No. 4 (seed from the region). The third team on our side would be No. 4 (if they won the play-in), and that’s the best we can do.”
Jefferson never really broke open Friday’s game after both teams traded touchdowns on the game’s first two possessions.
The closest the Dragons came to taking control was late in the third quarter. After Bryant Shirreffs (15 of 21 passing, 224 total yards, three TDs) lofted a beautiful red-zone pass to Will Puckett in the corner of the end zone, the Dragons took a 24-7 lead with 5:43 left in the period.
Twenty-three seconds later, the visitors were back in the end zone, thanks to a fumble recovery and subsequent 40-yard scoring run by senior defensive back Andre Daniel.
That 31-7 lead kept the Panthers (2-6, 1-4) at bay, despite a touchdown for Jackson County’s second-string offense after senior linebacker Andy Williams recovered a fumble at the Jefferson 30 late in the fourth quarter.
“I’m glad we won the football game. It sure beats losing, I’ll tell you that,” McFerrin said, while admitting that his team wasn’t at its best throughout the matchup.
“We didn’t tackle well in the first half, I was disappointed in that. Then on offense we stunk it up. We dropped four or five passes that would have made it a lot easier.
“Give them credit, they played great. I thought Jackson County really played well. Coach (Billy) Kirk did a great job with them”
Jefferson’s Tristen Jackson led all rushers with 117 yards on the night. Jalen Banks had a respectable night under center for the Panthers, completing 12 of 16 passes for 107 yards, while adding 41 yards with his legs.
Jefferson held a 17-7 lead at the half and was eventually able to build a 24-point advantage in the third quarter by holding Jackson County to four punts, a turnover on downs and Daniel’s fumble recovery on six consecutive drives in the middle of the game. The Panthers’ two touchdowns bookended that long stretch of frustration, coming on Jackson County’s first and final drives.
No. 8 Elbert County blanks Jefferson
JEFFERSON -- Elbert County -- ranked No. 8 in Class AA -- remained undefeated Friday with a 14-0 victory over Jefferson , with the Dragons suffering their second loss of the season and their first shutout in six years..
Jefferson (5-2, 2-1 in Region 8-AA South) was last shut out on Aug. 19, 2005, losing 21-0 to White County. Friday's shutout was Elbert County's fourth this season and fourth in its last five games.
The Dragons will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Jackson County . Elbert County (7-0, 4-0) will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
JEFFERSON — While it may have not answered the age-old sports question for good, Elbert County won the most recent chapter of what happens when a dominant offense meets a dominant defense.
The Blue Devils (7-0, 4-0 Region 8B-AA) held Jefferson to just 10 offensive yards in the first half and only 114 for the game to win the Region 8B-AA battle 14-0 Friday night at Memorial Stadium in Jefferson.
"They've got a great defense and our players played hard and I think they did probably the best they can play," said Jefferson head coach T. McFerrin, who lost to the school where he made a name for himself and won a state title in the early and mid-1990s.
The key moments of the game came at the very beginning and in the last few minutes of the game for Jefferson.
The Dragons (5-2, 2-2) went with an onside kick to start off the game, but were unable to come up with the ball, setting up Elbert with good field position, which became a recurring theme for the Blue Devils the entire night.
"It was a good kick and we had three people around the ball, but we just couldn't recover it," said McFerrin.
Starting their first possession on the on their own 47-yard-line, the Blue Devils appeared to be in position to put up some quick points after a 37-yard run by junior Tyshon Dye. But the Dragons' defense came up big, forcing a stop on fourth and goal from the two.
That put Jefferson with long field to work with however, and forced a three-and-out punt. With good field position once again, Elbert used its Wing-T formation to put together a drive that was capped off by a 6-yard quarterback keeper by Hunter Blackmon with just over a minute to go in the first quarter.
That proved to be the only points scored in the next 36 minutes of the game, as both defenses put up stop after stop, with Jefferson getting key third- and forth-and-short stops when given a short field and Jefferson struggling in every phase offensively, especially in the first half.
Jefferson only managed one first down in the first half, which came with 11 seconds to play in the second quarter.
The Dragons looked to have new life in the third quarter, when sophomore Tristen Jackson picked up several first downs on Jefferson's opening drive, however Jefferson couldn't capitalize when given chances.
"We saw some things at halftime that we adjusted to and that helped us but we just weren't consistent," McFerrin said.
Jackson carried the ball 18 times for 64 yards, 53 in the second half. Quarterback Bryant Shirreffs was shut down by an athletic Elbert defense for the second straight year, completing only 3-of-24 passes for 35 yards and an interception.
Jefferson had its best chance at tying the game late in the fourth when Elbert fumbled the ball on their own 30-yard-line and Kevin Selleck recovered for the Dragons.
However, Jefferson's drive stalled once again, as they turned the ball over on downs. That led to a 54-yard touchdown run by Blackmon on a QB keeper misdirection that took the Dragons; defense off guard.
Dye, who has gained notice from several Division I schools including Georgia and Clemson, was contained well for the most part by the Jefferson defense. He finished with 98 yards, most of which came from the 37-yarder and a 35-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Elbert finished with 262 yards on the ground and over 300 yards of total offense.
Jefferson will look to rebound next week as they make the short trip across town to struggling Jackson County. 1`
Dragons seek key subregion win, redemption vs. Elbert Co.
Jackson, Johnson lead Jefferson football team over Oglethorpe County
By BJ CorbittJEFFERSON – Before Friday night’s game, North Oconee and Jefferson were nearly identical, with matching records and similar offensive success.
LEXINGTON " Jefferson fumbled away promising first-half drives on two occasions Friday, but it only delayed the inevitable.
Tristen Jackson led Jefferson in rushing with just two quarters of play and Kamen Johnson scored three touchdowns inside the red zone, as the Dragons cruised to a 48-13 road win over Oglethorpe County .
"We were real sloppy in the first quarter. I was disappointed in that, but we bounced back good from last week (after losing to North Oconee )," Jefferson coach T. McFerrin said.
The Dragons (5-1, 2-1 Region 8-AA South sub-region) needed a little time to get things rolling on Friday. Although the visitors opened the game with a three-play, 70-second drive that ended with a 23-yard touchdown run from Drequn Sewell, Jefferson lost a pair of fumbles in Patriots' territory, including a ball that slipped out of quarterback Bryant Shirreff's hands at the Oglethorpe County 1-yard line early in the second quarter.
Despite those struggles on offense, Jefferson 's defense did its job in the first half, forcing a turnover on downs deep in Dragons' territory on Oglethorpe County 's first drive, and forcing punts on the next two.
Then came a crucial fumble recovery by senior defensive end Carson Newman deep in Patriot real estate, putting the Dragons in business at Oglethorpe County 's 18 up 14-0 midway through the second quarter.
Jefferson needed two plays to score and go up by three touchdowns, capping a sequence that seemed to end any chance for the Patriots (3-4, 1-3) to capitalize on the visitors' early struggles.
"They've got some threats. (Kendrick Presley) is a good football player, their quarterback, and they've got some good skill people, so I was proud of the way our guys played. "We got to play our JV guys that last drive, so a lot of people saw action tonight, which I was glad of," McFerrin said.
Jackson didn't make it into the scoring ledger, being dragged down a yard shy of a touchdown on two big runs, but the sophomore more than did his job, pacing the Dragons with 134 first half yards on just nine carries.
Meanwhile, Johnson only gained 18 yards on four carries, but three of those totes ended in short-yardage touchdowns.
"We made a few changes this week. (Jackson's) been banged up a little bit. We didn't want to run him a whole lot, so we didn't play him in the second half.
"He's a good runner. We moved him to tailback, and made a couple (other) changes that I thought went well also," McFerrin said.
Presley had Oglethorpe County 's highlight-reel play near the end of a running-clock fourth quarter, as the junior scurried 24 yards for a touchdown that put the Patriots in double digits on the scoreboard.
For Jefferson , the result keeps the Dragons in the conversation for the sub-region title with a big showdown against the co-leader Elbert County on deck next week.
"That's a huge game. They may be the best team in the region. It's between them and North Oconee right now, so we've got to get ready for a tough game," McFerrin said.
North Oconee quarterback Nick Colvin (12) is lifted into the air by fullback Dalton Greene after a touchdown pass in the second quarter Friday.
The Titans’ 38-28 win over the Dragons at Memorial Stadium helped create some separation between the two Region 8-AA South rivals. It also kept the Titans atop the sub-region standings, tied with defending region champ Elbert County at 2-0.
Both teams came into the game with undefeated records and scoring more than 40 points per game.
“It still leaves us driving the bus,” North Oconee coach Terry Tuley said. “It leaves us in control of our own destiny. We have fine football teams ahead and it is not an easy sub-region by any stretch of the imagination. You don’t get much time off.”
On the other side of the field from a celebrating North Oconee crowd was a deflated Jefferson squad, suddenly finding itself in a hole for the region title and the playoffs.
“It is big. It is huge,” Jefferson coach T. McFerrin said. “It is huge because we know how good Elbert County is. We thought we had a chance to win this thing.”
North Oconee (5-0, 2-0 in Region 8-AA South) recovered from an early 14-7 deficit by scoring 21 unanswered points and taking a lead it would not relinquish.
A pair of rushing touchdowns by David Pinkerton and Nick Colvin in the second half helped maintain that lead, and a 33-yard field goal by Cody Clark with less than five minutes to play clinched the victory.
The Titans rode freshman running back Kawon Bryant to the victory. He finished the game with 20 carries for 188 yards, both career highs, and a touchdown. The freshman also recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown in the first quarter.
“When you have a young man that is special like he is, you let him crawl, let him walk and then let him play,” Tuley said. “You want to let him play when he can be special and not nervous about what to do. … I thought everybody rose to the occasion.”
North Oconee’s passing game was limited against the Dragons. Blake Gaubert completed 4 of 6 passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. Colvin completed 1 of 2 passes for 10 yards and caught two passes for 32 yards.
The Titans also took advantage of three Jefferson fumbles, each of which was converted into points.
“We haven’t had a turnover in four games and look how many we had tonight,” McFerrin said.
“We can’t make those kinds of mistakes. You can’t give a good team touchdowns.”
The Titans made their own mistakes, however, committing six personal foul penalties in the second half alone to help give Jefferson new life in the second half.
The Dragons (4-1, 1-1) were able to do damage with a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Bryant Shirreffs to Will Puckett in the second half. Shirreffs completed 20 of 38 passes for 229 yards and four touchdowns, and Puckett caught six passes for 69 yards and three touchdowns.
Before the game, it was reported that Jefferson’s leading receiver, Cole Givens, was no longer on the team. Givens had 22 catches for 419 yards and four touchdowns through four games.
“It was a discipline situation,” McFerrin said. “That is all I’m going to say.”
The Dragons felt Givens’ absence almost immediately with four dropped passes in the first half. On top of being the leading receiver, Givens was also the team’s punter.
Their first punt attempt on the first drive of the game was fumbled by replacement Chandler Schlutow. The ball was picked up by Bryant, who returned it 19 yards for the first touchdown of the game. On top of being the leading receiver, Givens was also the team’s punter.
Jefferson didn’t dwell on the mistake, recovering with a 15-play, 88-yard drive for a touchdown. The drive was capped off with a 12-yard pass from Shirreffs to Hatfield.
In the second quarter, the Dragons were able to capitalize on a North Oconee fumble in the Titans’ territory and score on a 9-yard pass from Shirreffs to Puckett at the end of a quick nine-play drive.
North Oconee took the lead back at halftime by scoring twice in the final four minutes of the first half. Behind the running of Bryant, the Titans scored on a five-play drive to tie the game. Bryant ran the ball three times for 55 yards on the drive and scored on a 5-yard dive.
North Oconee needed another five plays on its next drive to find the end zone again, this time on a 20-yard pass from Gaubert to a wide-open Colvin.
North Oconee ran 19 offensive plays compared to Jefferson’s 42 offensive plays in the first half.
Turning point: Halfway through the fourth quarter, Jefferson muffed a punt while down by a touchdown. The Titans turned that turnover into a field goal and a two-score lead with five minutes left to play.
Key stat: The Dragons turned the ball over three times, the first three turnovers in their season. All three turnovers were converted into points for North Oconee.
Impact: North Oconee stays on top of the Region 8-AA South standings and undefeated. The Dragons are left at 1-1 and have to bounce back fast to stay in contention.
North Oconee at Jefferson
When and where: 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium
Records: North Oconee (4-0, 1-0 in Region 8-AA South), Jefferson (4-0, 1-0)
Key players: North Oconee — OL Joseph Scelfo (Sr., 6-1, 280), OL Max Gaubert (Sr., 6-2, 270), QB Blake Gaubert (Sr., 6-2, 210), RB David Pinkerton (Sr., 5-9, 175). Jefferson — QB Bryant Shirreffs (Jr., 6-2, 205), WR Cole Givens (Sr., 6-0, 185), OL/DE Kevin Selleck (Sr., 6-0, 240), TE/LB Kamen Johnson (Sr., 6-2, 215).
The inside slant: Tonight is the sixth meeting between the Titans and Dragons since the teams first met in 2004. Jefferson holds a 4-1 edge in the series, but lost its first game against the Titans last year in Bogart, 35-22. The Dragons have not scored more than 22 points against North Oconee since scoring 55 points in their first meeting. … North Oconee moved to 4-0 last week and won its first sub-region game of the year, beating Hart County 28-20. Last week’s win was the only one that was decided by a single score for the Titans. … North Oconee’s offense is led by senior quarterback Blake Gaubert, who has completed 35 of 57 passes for 542 yards and six touchdowns with just one interception. The Titans’ running game is led by David Pinkerton, who has 473 yards and six touchdowns through four games. North Oconee is scoring 40.5 points per game. … Jefferson was off last week, but won its fourth straight game on Sept. 16, beating Hart County 57-29. Like the Titans, the Dragons are 1-0 in Region 8-AA South. … Dragons quarterback Bryant Shirreffs has passed for 863 and eight touchdowns this season. His favorite receiver, Cole Givens, has caught 22 passes for 419 yards and four touchdowns.
Titans, Dragons fight for footing
Published Thursday, September 29, 2011
Although North Oconee and Jefferson have only been playing regularly for about four years, the game has become one of the major indicators of who will win the Region 8-AA championship.
The Dragons and the Titans hook up again this week, and once more it looks like the loser could fall out of the race for the Region 8-AA South crown.
"They're a really good football team and they're the best team we've faced so far," Jefferson coach T. McFerrin said. "I don't know if as much a rivalry as it is intense respect because they're such a fine football team. They beat us last year and we were fortunate to beat them two years ago.
"It's going to be a tough game. You think of a rivalry as being something like Jefferson and Commerce or us and Jackson County. North Oconee is in another county. But it's certainly a big game, and our players realize it's going to be a tough game."
Jefferson (4-0, 1-0) hosts North Oconee (4-0, 1-0) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Jefferson Memorial Stadium. The game comes too early in the region schedule to officially clinch anything. But it does give the winner a boost going into the rest of the schedule, which includes a strong sub-region contender in Elbert County .
"Any team has got to win to control its own destiny, so this kind of game almost becomes a region championship-type game," North Oconee coach Terry Tuley said. "If you lose it, you're not getting that loss back, so you have to depend on somebody else to do it for you."
Jefferson won back-to-back region championships in 2008 and 2009. North Oconee was second to the Dragons in 2008 and finished third in 2009. After the 2010 realignment, historically strong Elbert County and Hart County dropped into the sub-region to complicate matters.
"Now you can't focus on one team like you could when it was us and Jefferson," Tuley said. "Elbert won it last year and Hart County is always very good. You have some other teams in the mix that are going to be really hard to beat so you can't just worry about one team."
North Oconee and Jefferson have both won their sub-region openers against the same team, Hart County. North Oconee beat Hart County 28-20 last week. The Titans won despite two turnovers and a blocked punt that had major consequences.
"It was one of those games where we played really well in all phases except when mistakes were made, they really hurt," Tuley said. "We had a fumble on our six-yard line and Hart converts it to a score on the very first play. We had a fumble out near midfield and they scoop it and score. In the fourth quarter, we've got to punt out of our end zone and we get it blocked. What you learn is that those mistakes basically set the table for three touchdowns and made what could have looked like a rout into a close football game."
Jefferson beat Hart County 57-29 two weeks ago and had its regional bye last week. Although Jefferson rang up a big offensive total, Hart County hurt the Dragons' defense with big plays throughout the game.
"We were dinged up pretty good so I'm glad we had an off week because we really needed it," McFerrin said. "The defense has gotten better but we've struggled on defense. We gave up a lot of yards in the first couple of games. I thought we played better against Hart County but it didn't look like that because they got four big plays on us. They got four long plays and scored some touchdowns. But we did get some three-and-outs which we hadn't been doing so I'm hoping they're getting better because they're going to have to be a lot better this week."
Shirreffs, Dragons click in shootout win
Jefferson scored the first three times it had the ball and won 57-29 against Hart County on Friday at Memorial Stadium.
"It feels great, this is just fun, really fun," Shirreffs said. "I think the whole team's enjoying it. We got really pumped for this game. Hart County beat us last year and we kind of had that in the back of our minds. We're kind of wanting to get back at the teams that beat us last year."
Shirreffs completed 15 of 21 passes for 285 yards and four touchdowns. A pair of Shirreffs' receivers went over the century mark as Cole Givens caught eight passes for 132 yards and a touchdown, and fullback Tristan Jackson caught three passes for 121 yards and a touchdown.
Drequn Sewell keyed the running attack with 31 rushes for 155 yards and three scores. Jackson added 56 rushing yards and a touchdown. Will Puckett caught three passes for 19 yards and two touchdowns.
"We knew they beat us last year, so we wanted to start out fast," Jackson said. "That helped us because they came back but we were able to keep the offense going."
Hart County was led by Stephon Eades, who accounted for four touchdowns. He finished with 70 rushing yards and two scores, a 57-yard pass for a touchdown and a 50-yard touchdown reception.
Jefferson (4-0, 1-0 in Region 8-AA South) outgained Hart County 539-347. Although Jefferson took a quick three-touchdown lead, Hart County never truly went away.
"That hot start was crucial," Jefferson coach T. McFerrin said. "It was a great first quarter. We knew they were going to come back on us. They've got great athletes and great playmakers."
Shirreffs hit seven straight passes in the first quarter as Jefferson built a 21-0 lead.
The biggest surprise was when he hit Jackson with a screen pass and Jackson raced 35 yards for a touchdown.
"It was supposed to be a draw, but I thought it was a screen," Shirreffs said.
After Shirreffs pulled the handoff away from Jackson he hit him with a pass in the middle of the field and Jackson followed a convoy to the end zone.
"I didn't get the handoff and I just turned around and the ball was there," Jackson said. "All I had to do was catch it and turn around and run."
Hart County went to its bag of tricks twice to get back into the game. A 53-yard flanker option pass from Dakota Mitchell set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Stephon Eades to pull Hart County within 21-7. Hart County got a safety when Jefferson snapped the ball over the punter's head and through the end zone.
The Bulldogs capped their 16-0 run when Eades hit Tyler Barber for a 57-yard halfback option pass for a touchdown to pull Hart County within 21-15 with 7:24 left in the half.
Jefferson scored a touchdown after recovering a fumbled punt to end the second quarter.
Jackson scored his second touchdown of the night on a 1-yard plunge to give Jefferson a 29-15 halftime lead. The Dragons took control when Sewell scored on a 5-yard run to cap their first possession of the second half for a 36-15 lead.
Hart County at Jefferson
When and where: 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium
Records: Hart County (2-1, 0-0 in Region 8-AA South), Jefferson (3-0. 0-0)
Key players: Hart County — RB/LB Stephon Eades (Sr., 6-foot, 200 pounds), RB/LB Deonte Allen (Sr.), QB Chris Ayers (Sr.). Jefferson — QB Bryant Shirreffs (Jr., 6-2, 205), WR Cole Givens (Sr., 6-0, 185), OL/DE Kevin Selleck (Sr., 6-0, 240), TE/LB Kamen Johnson (Sr., 6-2, 215).
The inside slant: The Bulldogs and Dragons have met just once before despite both teams being around since the early 1950s. They met last year for the first time with Hart County winning 27-17 at Pete Herndon Stadium. … Hart County won its second game of the season last week, beating Union County 36-7. The Bulldogs’ only game against a team with a winning record ended in a 39-0 loss to Stephens County in Week 2. … Hart County scored more than 30 points in each of its two wins. … Bulldogs coach Joby Scroggs is in his ninth season at Hart County. He has never had a losing season and has won at least eight games in six seasons. The Bulldogs have reached the playoffs in nine straight seasons. … Jefferson won its third straight game last week, beating Dawson County 42-14. The last time the Dragons went 3-0 to start a season, they finished the regular season 10-0 with a Region 8-AA championship. … Jefferson has scored at least 38 points in each of its three games and is averaging 40.3 points per game. … The Dragons have shown a fairly balanced offense this season, rushing for 463 yards and passing for 547 yards. They have kept teams’ passing games in check, allowing just 214 passing yards.
Dragons' Shirreffs becomes an expert in McFerrin's offense
Jefferson quarterback Bryant Shirreffs has combined for eight touchdowns so far this season, helping the Dragons to a 3-0 start.
That can be intimidating for a young quarterback to try and wrap his mind around.
"It is fairly sophisticated because it is based on reads and route adjustments," said McFerrin, who is in his 33rd season as a head coach in Georgia. "Receivers make adjustments based on the coverages. There are so many nuances and idiosyncrasies that seem like little things, but they are big things that make the patterns work. Then we have the progression he has to go through, with the 1, 2 and 3 receiver. There are a whole lot of things to do."
Junior quarterback Bryant Shirreffs, in just his second year starting for the Dragons, already has a solid grasp on the system and is successfully implementing it every Friday.
"At first, it was a little tough," he said. "But once you understand it, everything else comes naturally. The system is so direct and everything fits. It is easy once you get to know it, but understanding it at first is pretty difficult."
Shirreffs said that understanding the details -- and his coach's emphasis on them -- is what makes the system a success.
"He stays picky with the details," Shirreffs said. "He makes sure all the little things are right. The big things will settle themselves, but he focuses on the little things and that will carry over into the games."
As a sophomore quarterback starting for the Dragons in 2010, Shirreffs suffered through the steep learning curve and was still able to find some success.
He completed 89 of 145 passes for 1,372 yards and 14 touchdowns last year.
This year, McFerrin has put more into the system for Shirreffs to learn, which he has done successfully while leading the Dragons to a 3-0 start.
"You have to be pretty smart back there to learn this stuff and he has done a good job of learning it," McFerrin said. "We didn't throw the whole package at him last year. We put a little over half in last year and we have expanded it this year. He has the full package in now. He had a good start last year."
Shirreffs has completed 28 of 41 passes this year for 546 yards and four touchdowns. He has also rushed for 116 yards and four touchdowns.
Even though he can hurt opposing defenses with his feet and arm, Shirreffs prefers to stay in the pocket and pick apart the other team's secondary. McFerrin's system occasionally calls for quarterback draws, but Shirreffs does the most damage running when he's improvising.
"If the opportunity presents itself, I'll definitely scramble and run," he said. "But I'm looking to pass first. I think I stay in the pocket better. But if I have to run, I'll run as hard as I can."
The Dragons are averaging 40.3 points per game this year. They start their Region 8-AA South schedule tonight when they host Hart County.
"The team is on the same page," Shirreffs said. "We are working hard, practicing hard and we have been seeing results so far. We are definitely clicking on all cylinders. We just have to keep the momentum pushing towards the next game. They are a good team and we have to play our best."
Jefferson has looked impressive early in this season, winning each of its three games by multiple scores. The Dragons have scored at least 38 points in each game.
But tonight's game against Hart County counts in the region standings and will affect both teams' chances at reaching the playoffs.
"I told them that this is a crucial game," McFerrin said. "Hart has great athletes and is a good football team. Now they count. The other games were for pride and we were glad to win those games, but these really count. I think it picks things up a little bit in practice. They realize how important these games are."
Jefferson missed out on the playoffs for the first time in 10 seasons last year despite a 6-4 record. This year's crop of Dragons is anxious to get back into the postseason and they know a win in tonight's game will give them a head start.
"We are psyched about it," Shirreffs said. "There is much more energy this year. We are just trying to have fun and grasp it all."
`Dragons Roll Past Dawson County 42 - 14
DAWSONVILLE — It all came together for Jefferson in the second quarter Friday. The Dragons (3-0) exploded for 35 points in the quarter en route to a 42-14 win against Dawson County (1-2) in Dawsonville.
It was also the coming-out party for the defense, which held the Tigers scoreless through the first half and until the game was well in hand.
“Our defense really stepped up and played well,” said Jefferson coach T. McFerrin. “It was a good team effort tonight.”
Jefferson junior quarterback Bryant Shirreffs had another solid outing, finishing 11 of 16 for 146 yards passing and a touchdown in one half of play.
But it was the ground game that led the way with senior running back Drequn Sewell scoring three times on eight carries and 49 yards in the first half. Jefferson compiled 207 yards on the ground and 353 total yards.
“It feels good,” Sewell said on starting 3-0. “We’re headed to a good season.”
The Dragons have certainly started the season well, defeating teams from Class A, AA and AAA. Next Friday could be the biggest test yet, as Jefferson plays its first subregion game of the season at Memorial Stadium against Hart County.
If they build on what they accomplished Friday night, Jefferson will have a good shot at yet another win.
“They were on tonight,” said Tigers coach Jeff Lee. “Coach McFerrin’s got a good football team.”
The Dragons offense took nearly a quarter to really get going, but once they did they couldn’t be stopped.
Shirreffs finished a 13-play drive with a 1-yard run on fourth and goal and 1:46 in the first to set the tone and go ahead 7-0.
Jefferson would continue in the second quarter with touchdowns on the next five possessions to take a commanding 42-0 lead when halftime finally halted the Dragons attack.
Sophomore running back Tristen Jackson led the team with 59 yards on the ground and another touchdown to go along with Sewell’s three. After Dragons senior Andre Daniel intercepted Dawson County quarterback Tyler Dominy, Shirreffs capped off the first half with a 32-yard pass to a diving Cole Givens in the end zone. Givens finished with 91 yards and a touchdown.
Dawson County recovered and scored twice in the second half, and Dominy finished 16 of 27 for 149 yards with a touchdown and interception on the night. Junior running back Zack Martin led the Tigers with 46 yards rushing and a touchdown.
After a season-opening win, Dawson County has now dropped the past two games. The Tigers still have one more non-subregion game at Chestatee next week before diving into the subregion schedule.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Jefferson 41, Commerce 14
Dragons match longest winning streak in series
Jefferson running back Drequn Sewell (32) breaks away for a long run and touchdown as his teammates cheer on the sideline Friday.
Jefferson running back Drequn Sewell (32) breaks away for a long run and touchdown as his teammates cheer on the sideline Friday.
Turning Point: Jefferson scored two touchdowns in the first 1:30 of the second half to take a 34-7 lead.
Key Stat: Bryant Shirreffs completed 12 of 15 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns along with a pair of rushing touchdowns.
Impact: Jefferson beat Commerce for the fifth straight time to tie the Dragons’ longest winning streak in the series.
The Dragons' junior baseball player turned defensive back scored the back-breaking touchdown as Jefferson rolled over the Tigers 41-14 on Friday at Jefferson Memorial Stadium.
"This is my first year of playing football and my first year against Commerce, so this is just incredible," Carson said. "All the guys kept telling me about how awesome it's going to feel to play Commerce, about all the adrenaline that's going to be pumping. But this was everything and more than what the guys have been talking about. I don't think I've ever had this feeling before."
Jefferson has now beaten Commerce five straight times to tie the Dragons' longest winning streak in the series. Commerce still leads the all-time series 41-20-5.
"It's incredible," Carson said. "Commerce has been one of our biggest rivals for a century and to beat them in my very first game, you can't ask for better than that. It's a huge game to play. We came in prepared. We were ready for them and I'm ecstatic right now."
Jefferson (1-0) took control of the game when it scored three touchdowns in less than two minutes sandwiched around halftime to take a 34-7 lead
take a 34-7 lead. Dragons quarterback Bryant Shirreffs hit Will Puckett for a 24-yard touchdown pass with nine seconds left in the half. On the second play after halftime, Shirreffs and Drequn Sewell hooked up on a 76-yard touchdown pass.
"That was huge for us," Jefferson quarterback Bryant Shirreffs said. "Scoring right before halftime just carried over into the second half. We were playing with a lot of confidence starting out and just caught fire after that."
Carson capped the three-touchdown run when he scooped up a Commerce fumble and raced 53 yards to a touchdown to give the Dragons a 34-7 lead with 8:30 left in the third quarter.
"I saw the ball laying there and I just picked it up," Carson said. "I thought they'd blown the whistle, but I started running just in case. The next thing I know, everybody's chasing me, so I had decided to run as fast as I could and get into the end zone."
Shirreffs cut Commerce's defense to pieces as he completed 12 of 15 passes for 244 yards and two touchdown passes to Drequn Sewell (76 yards) and Will Puckett (10 yards). Shirreffs also ran for two 1-yard touchdowns and had 33 yards on five carries for the night.
"I started off a little rusty and missed a couple I probably shouldn't have," Shirreffs said. "But we played pretty well and we seemed to be in sync all night. The line blocked well. The receivers caught well and I was able to hit them."
Sewell had 92 yards on two catches and Cole Givens had three catches for 81 yards.
Commerce quarterback Cody Streetman ran 17 times for 56 yards and a touchdown. Fullback Chance McClure led the team with 71 yards on 12 carries. Streetman also completed 6 of 7 passes for 50 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown to Marquavius Little. But for the most part, Jefferson's defense held Commerce in check.
"The bottom line is we never could get anything going on offense," first-year Commerce head coach Marvin Justice said. "We couldn't get any momentum and that's a credit to Jefferson's defense. They did a good job of denying us the ball. We didn't execute as well as we probably should have."
Commerce had two long touchdown drives in the game, but the Tigers couldn't keep up with Jefferson's offense, especially in the second half as the Dragons outscored the Tigers 20-7.
"We play at a fast pace on offense, so we wanted to keep up that pressure," Shirreffs said. "We wanted to keep the ball moving and play fast to try to wear down their defense."
MORE COMMERCE-JEFFERSON JEFFERSON — Jefferson coach T. McFerrin knew that the key to stopping rival Commerce began with containing Cody Streetman.
New Commerce coach Marvin Justice knew that the key would be containing Jefferson's playmakers from wheeling off big plays.
While McFerrin's gameplan went about as well as possible, Justice's could have gone better — much better.
Jefferson (1-0) reeled off big play after big play Friday and held Streetman, Commerce's four-year starter at quarterback, to just 46 yards passing and 98 yards rushing in a 41-14 drubbing of the rival Tigers (0-1) in the 66th "Battle of the Bridge."
"It was a game of big plays and I'm proud of that. Our guys played hard" McFerrin said.
The Dragons had four plays for 30 yards or more on the night.
The first came on a 57-yard pass from Bryant Shirreffs to Cole Givens to set up a 1-yard run by the Jefferson quarterback in the second to go up 14-7.
The second half was more of the same; a swing pass from Shirreffs to senior running back Drequn Sewell was taken for a 76-yard score, followed by a 48-yard touchdown on a fumble recovery by Drew Carson on the ensuing Commerce possession, putting Jefferson up 34-7 and the game all but out of reach. Shirreffs would lead his team on a 70-yard drive later in the forth — including a 30-yard scamper from the junior — which was capped off by a 16-yard run up the middle from sophomore Tristen Jackson.
"Our plan coming in was to take some chances with blitzes. Our plan was to come in and come after them and that just wasn't working," said Justice, who took over as the Tigers head coach for long-time Commerce coach Steve Savage, who retired at the end of last season.
After holding Commerce to a three and out to start the game, the Dragons strung together a 13-play, 53-yard drive led by Shirreffs, who put Jefferson up 7-0 with a 1-yard quarterback draw.
The Tigers would respond with their own long drive, primarily running the ball and milking nearly nine minutes off the clock. Commerce would get inside the Jefferson 3-yard-line before back-to-back penalties put them all but out of scoring range. On third and long, Streetman completed just his second pass attempt for a 21-yard strike to Marquavius Little.
Shirreffs continued to lead his team however, scoring twice before the half, including a 24-yard pass to a diving Will Puckett with nine seconds to go to put the Dragons up 21-7.
"That was a huge momentum shift for us," McFerrin said.
Shirreffs finished the game 13-for-16 for 246 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 38 yards and two scores. After being held pretty quiet in the first half, Sewell finished with 115 yards receiving; the majority coming on the 76-yard screen pass taken for a touchdown.
The Dragon defense held its rival to just 280 yards of total offense, with 234 of that coming on sustained drives running the ball.
Jefferson will host North Hall next week at Memorial Stadium, while Commerce will host Franklin County.
Jefferson 38 - North Hall 28
September 3, 2001 in Jefferson
JEFFERSON--Some games test the character of a football team.
Friday night Jefferson (2-0, 0-0 Region 8-AA South) passed that test, jumping ahead early and holding on late to snatch a 38-28 win over North Hall (0-1, 0-0 Region 8-AAA North) at Jefferson Memorial Stadium.
"I'm sure proud of our guys' character," said Dragons coach T. McFerrin. "We sure kept fighting and never quit."
Jefferson needed contributions from all three phases of the game, and senior wide receiver/defensive back Cole Givens was involved in it all.
Givens caught three passes for 118 yards and a touchdown, and recovered a blocked North Hall punt in the end zone for another score that put the hosts ahead 28-7 at the half.
"That right there is going to get us ready for region play," the senior said. "I like the competition."
Jefferson got plenty of competition, especially from North Hall running back Imani Cross. The senior rushed for four touchdowns and a team-high 222 yards on 23 carries, including three scores in the second half to get the Trojans back in the game.
North Hall kicked, and recovered, an onside kick to start the third quarter, and Cross found the endzone on three consecutive possessions.
"I'm proud of my football team for the heart they showed in the second half," said North Hall coach Bob Christmas. "But you don't beat a good football team by playing two and a half quarters."
It was Jefferson quarterback Bryant Shirreffs who kept the Dragons out front, running the clock late and leading Jefferson to 10 crucial second-half points. He finished with 154 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 60 yards and another score,
Christmas said it could have been a different game had the first half not gone the way it did. But it did start on a positive for North Hall in its season opener.
The Trojans marched right down the field, and Cross punched it in to put the Trojans ahead 7-0 with 7:57 left in the first before the home team's offense had even touched the field.
The rest of the first half was all Dragons.
"Sherriffs did an outstanding job and Coach McFerrin and his staff were great," Christmas said. "I hate to play a team that has already played a game and we haven't, but the credit goes to them."
The home team forced five turnovers in the half and raced out to a 28-7 halftime lead, converting three of the turnovers into touchdowns.
But Jefferson scored its first points of the game on its first possession, with Shirreffs finishing a 68-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. The Dragons missed the extra point and North Hall still held a 7-6 lead with 4:44 in the first.
It was in the second where Jefferson erupted, and it was courtesy of the defense. The Trojans turned the ball over on downs the next two possessions, and the Dragons turned both into touchdowns.
Sherriffs hit Givens for a 62-yard touchdown on a screen pass and then hit receiver Will Puckett on a fade to go ahead 14-7, and then the quarterback ran it in to take the 21-7 lead.
Dragons 38, Trojans 28
Difference maker: Jefferson senior Cole Givens led the Dragons with 118 receiving yards and a touchdown, and recovered a blocked punt in the endzone to put Jefferson ahead 28-7 at the end of the first half.
Stat that matters: Five turnovers in the first half alone for North Hall. Jefferson turned three of those into touchdowns to take a big first half lead.
Turning point: Jefferson blocked the Dragons' punt with less than two minutes remaining in the first half and Jefferson senior Cole Givens recovered the loose ball in the endzone to put the hosts ahead 28-7 with 1:12 remaining in the first half.
Who's next: North Hall travels to St. Pius X (Region 5-AAA) for a 7:30 start on Sept. 9 in Atlanta. Jefferson travels to Dawson County for a 7:30 meeting against Region 8-AA North opponent Dawson County in Dawsonville.