Jefferson Dragons 2017 Football season results


Class 4A Class 4A Week Zero Football Rankings: Class AAAA

1. Cartersville (15-0)

2. Blessed Trinity (10-3)

3. Thomson (14-1)

4. Sandy Creek (8-4)

5. Woodward Academy (11-2)

6. Jefferson (12-2)

7. Marist (7-4)

8. Mary Persons (11-3)

9. Cairo (11-2)

10. Ridgeland (9-2)


Jefferson cruises to 43-0 win over Discovery 

At Memorial Stadium in Jefferson, the Dragons – ranked No. 4 in Class 4A — had little trouble with visiting Discovery as Colby Wood accounted for the 66th, 67th and 68th rushing touchdowns of his high school career.

Jefferson topped Discovery 43-0. Wood scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter and on runs of 15 and 16 yards in the second quarter. He also grabbed a 55-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Moore in the second quarter.

Moore hit Justin Cole on a 35-yard touchdown strike in the first quarter as the Dragons took an early 13-0 lead. Cole scored again on a 3-yard run with 7:13 remaining in the game.

Wood led the Dragons ground game with 85 yards on 11 carries. Colby Clark ran for 53 yards on 9 carries and Justin Cole rushed for 41 yards on 6 carries.

The Jefferson passing attack was led by Bryce Moore with 6 of 10 completions for 144 yards and two touchdowns.  Colby Clark threw 5 times with 3 completions for40 yards.

Colby Wood caught 3 passes for 68 yards and one touchdown, while Justin Cole had 2 receptions for 46 yards and another score.

The Dragon defense was led in tackles by sophomore A.J. Abbot with 7 and Noah Mulvey had 6.  Colby Clark and Matthew Nilsen had 5 tackles each.  

Jefferson – which amassed 448 offensive yards (264 rushing and 184 passing) will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Riverwood.


 Jefferson rolls again in win over Riverwood

 At Atlanta, Colby Wood rushed for 243 yards and three touchdowns as the Dragons – ranked No. 4 in Class 4A – improved to 2-0. Wood, who also recorded an interception, scored on runs of 1 (set up by a 63-yard interception return by Zac Corbin) 80 (the first play of the third quarter) and 30 yards.

Bryce Moore threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Corbin to put the Dragons up 6-0 in the first quarter. Justin Cole scored the first of his two touchdowns in the second quarter to make it 13-0. Cole scored another touchdown in the fourth quarter to put Jefferson up 43-13.

Kade McNally scored Jefferson’s final touchdown on a 20-yard run with four minutes remaining in the game.

Colby Wood rushed for 243 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries as Jefferson put up 423 rushing yards. Wood also intercepted a pass.

Justin Cole had 120 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Noah Mulvey had two sacks, and Zac Corbin had an interception. 

The Dragons (2-0) will play at 7:30 p.m. at Thomson.


Thomson 20, Jefferson 14: Dragons fall just short at The Brickyard

Posted by Ben Munro

Saturday, September 2. 2017

Jefferson left The Brickyard with a loss, but it didn’t sound like a beaten football team afterwards. The Dragons (2-1) fell just short of scoring a major road win at Thomson on Friday, losing 20-14 to the third-ranked Bulldogs after Bubba Murray delivered the game-winning touchdown from a yard out with 30 seconds left.

“We gave it our everything,” Jefferson senior lineman Logan Garner said. “We put our hearts out onto the field, and at the end of the day, if you give it your all, there’s nothing to be disappointed about. That was a great game. All respect to Thomson.”

Jefferson coach Gene Cathcart said he was proud of his squad, but that the loss served as a lesson in missed opportunities. The Dragons twice came away with no points after pushing the ball inside the Thomson 25, including coming up short on a fourth down on the two-yard line.

“It was a great test for us,” Cathcart said. “What we’ve got to learn how to do is when we do get it close, we’ve got to learn how to make plays in the red zone when we have that opportunity. Against a team like this, you can’t leave points on the field.”

This was Jefferson’s third game in the last 12 months against the traditional state power, having faced the Bulldogs both in the regular season and the playoffs last year. Thomson, last year’s Class AAAA state runners-up, won both those contests by more than 20 points.

It appeared that Friday’s contest would follow a similar plot line after the Bulldogs jumped out 13-0 early before Jefferson found its footing in the second quarter.

Garner said there was no panic after falling down quickly. “We know how to handle ourselves in those situations,” he said. “ … We’re really good at keeping our composure. It’s a long game.”

Still, Thomson threw a haymaker early, scoring in seven plays on its opening drive, capped by a two-yard run by Tyrek Braswell. The Bulldogs then cashed in on a Dragon fumble at the Jefferson 14 later in the quarter with Tyler Curry scoring from a yard out five plays later. But Thomson wouldn’t find the end zone again until the waning moments of the game.

In the meantime, Jefferson’s offense, which had gained a total of one yard in its first two possessions, began finding a rhythm.

Colby Wood cut the Bulldog lead to 13-7 after scoring on a 15-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Wood finished with 70 yards on 18 carries. Wood scored again late in the third quarter, running in from four yards out, followed by a Hayden Kilgore PAT to give Jefferson a 14-13 lead. The touchdown was set up by a 29-yard pass from wide receiver Zac Corbin back to quarterback Bryce Moore.

The Dragons finished with 152 yards in the air, with Moore accounting for 123 of those yards on an 8-for-23 passing night.

Jefferson’s defense then forced punts on Thomson’s next two offensive series but the Dragon offense was unable to knock out a first down on either possession to run time off the clock.

As a result, Thomson got the ball back at its own 36 with 5:56 left and responded with a 14-play, 64-yard drive for the winning score.

“The people that know football know the game was actually lost when we weren’t able to get first downs in that fourth quarter and keep the ball from them,” Cathcart said.

Jefferson now receives a well-timed off week this Friday to rest several banged-up players, according to Cathcart.

The Dragons then have big non-region contests remaining with Flowery Branch (Sept. 15) and Gainesville (Sept. 22) before starting region play.

“No rest for the weary, but I’m just extremely proud of the job that these guys did,” Cathcart said.


JEFFERSON, Ga. - Football Fridays are always big in Jefferson, but this Friday's game against Flowery Branch is kind of special. "It'll be like no other Friday night I've experienced as a head coach." said former Jefferson and current Flowery Branch head coach Ben Hall. "I'll admit, I'm going in there with some emotions you don't normally feel."  

Hall, who spent eight years as both an assistant and head coach at Jefferson, brings his undefeated Falcons into Memorial Stadium for a 7:30 game that will be featured on the High 5 Sports Show at 11 p.m. The Falcons have been good on both sides of the ball so far in blowout wins over North Hall, Chestatee and Stephens County.

"We're not there yet." Hall told High 5 Sports, "We've got a good size up front and a tailback in Malik Damons who's rushed for almost 500 yards in our first three games." But Hall knows that playing on the road in Memorial Stadium is hard to prepare for, especially when you only get one practice and a walk-through during the week because of weather issues caused by Tropical Storm Irma. Hall County schools have been on recess all week as cleanup continues, prompting Hall to petition for a full practice day on Wednesday which the county approved.

Jefferson City Schools were back in session Thursday, but head coach Gene Cathcart and his Dragons experienced a similar truncated practice week. "It has affected our routine and their (Flowery Branch) routine and it will probably show with some confusion early, but it'll just be two teams that are pretty close together competing to win a key non-region game." Said Cathcart.

Cathcart was hired to replace Hall as the nineteenth head coach in Jefferson Football history in January. His résumé includes 12 years as a head coach, over 100 wins and a state title in 2012 while coaching at Greenwood (S.C.). The Dragons (2-1) won their first two games easily before losing 20-14 on the road against 2nd-ranked Thomson, but this game will stir the emotions of those Jefferson fans who knew Hall during his tenure at the school.

"Here at Jefferson, we're sort of "big-game" trained." Cathcart continued, "I think too much is made of it, but it will certainly add a little bit to the emotion and to the excitement of the evening. What it boils down to is neither one of us is gonna make a tackle, make a block or make a catch. Ultimately it's gonna come down to our kids."

Bill Hartman, "Super" Blaine Kummet and the High 5 Sports team will be at Memorial Stadium for pregame live coverage on FOX 5 News at 5 and 6, with game highlights and post-game interviews to follow on the big show at 11.


 Jefferson 35, Flowery Branch 29: Dragons gut out win against former coach

Posted by Ben Munro Saturday, September 16. 2017

Jefferson reunited with its old coach on Friday but made sure he didn’t leave town with a win.

Behind a 22-point fourth quarter, Jefferson beat Ben Hall’s Flowery Branch team 35-29 in Hall’s return to Memorial Stadium.

Colby Wood ran for 201 yards on 30 carries and three touchdowns, and Bryce Moore threw for 142 yards and a pair of touchdown passes to Zac Corbin as the Dragons overcame a 16-6 halftime deficit to win a high-profile non-region game.

“It’s important, but it’s another win on the schedule,” Moore said. “It’s exciting just to win a game, especially against this kind of team and the kind of emotional connection we have with that team. It’s great.”

Speaking of that connection, the return of Hall did provide a little motivation, according to Moore.

“We tried to keep it not personal,” he said. “We just tried to keep it to just ‘do what we do and do what we do best.’”

That wasn’t always easy to do.

Cathcart, who was quickly promoted to head coach after Hall departed in January, said he let the pressure of the game get to him in the first half. The coach said he apologized to his team at halftime after it trailed by 10 points.

“I did everything I said I wouldn’t do this week,” Cathcart said. “I got worried about what everybody thought of me, ‘What if I lose to Ben or what if this happens and that happens?’ I coached the first half angry and impatient — I’m just trying to be transparent by admitting that. I went in and told them, ‘I did everything I asked y’all not to do, and I’m not going to do it the second half — we’re going to build things, we’re going to get into a rhythm, we’re going to be a little more patient.’”

The renewed focus seemed to work as Cathcart’s team put up 29 points in the second half to beat a much-improved Flowery Branch program.

“I’m very proud of Ben and the job that he has done in a short period of time — nothing short of miraculous … It’s just good to get out here with a ‘W,’” Cathcart said.

For Hall, the matchup meant returning to the school where he won 44 games in four seasons.

“It was tough coming back,” Hall said. “It was emotional. But when I got here, there was a sense of satisfaction, just remembering what we’d done here … the ball games we won, the memories we made. But once the game started the emotions were out the window, and it was football. Now that the game is over, I’ll see old friends, and you know, I’m glad this night is over.”

Hall, who went 24-3 at games at Memorial Stadium during his time at Jefferson, had new his team in position to win in the fourth quarter, up 22-13 with 11:56 left.

But Wood and Moore led the Dragons to three consecutive scoring drives, culminating with an 8-yard touchdown from Wood to give Dragons a 35-22 lead with just 1:47 remaining in the game.

Flowery Branch’s Malik Damons scored from five yards out, cutting the Dragons’ lead to 35-29 with 49 seconds left, but Jefferson recovered the ensuring onside kick to put the game away.

Matthew Nilsen led Jefferson’s defensive effort with 10 tackles (eight solo). Noah Mulvey finished with nine. “It was just a great high school football game,” Cathcart said. “You hate that somebody had to lose, and you hate that it was Ben and them because, boy, they’re going to have a great year.”

Hall said his team “fought to the end.”

“We’ve just got to learn to close the door when we have an opportunity against a great team like Jefferson,” he said.

“We’re going to learn from this experience, and we’re going to be a better ball team because we played Jefferson tonight.”

Meanwhile, the Dragons look to build on their fourth quarter performance.

Moore threw a touchdown pass to Corbin from nine-yards out with 8:44 left in the game to cut Flowery Branch’s lead to 22-20 and later set up Jefferson’s go-ahead score with a 41-yard scamper down to the Flowery Branch 2-yard line.

“It was supposed to be a bubble (screen) but they outflanked us,” Moore explained of his long scramble. “And they had nobody right there were I was going. So I took it.”

Wood scored one play later, and Moore hit Sammy Elegreet for a 2-point conversion to put Jefferson ahead 28-22.

A turnover on downs gave Jefferson the ball on the Flowery Branch 36. Five plays later, Wood knifed through the Falcon defense for an 8-yard touchdown.

Wood gained 166 of his 201 yards after halftime.

“He’s the best in the state,” Moore said.

Cathcart praised the all-state running back for his second half performance.

“Everyone in the stadium knows he’s getting the ball in the second half, and yet he still (did that),” he said. “The offensive line found hole for him and did a great job.”

Flowery Branch, which was off to a 3-0 start, showed early on that the night would unfold differently than last year’s 33-0 loss to Jefferson. The Falcons marched 15 plays on its opening drive and took a 3-0 lead with a 25-yard field goal.

The Dragons didn’t get on the board until the second quarter when Moore tossed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Corbin to put Jefferson head 6-3. Corbin finished with 50 yards receiving on five catches.

But Flowery Branch quarterback Elijah Gainey threw a touchdown pass of 18 yards to Nick Lance and an 84-yard touchdown pass to Jalin Strown — who dodged a tackle about five yards past the line of scrimmage and sprinted to the end zone — to stake the Falcons to a 16-6 halftime lead.

Jefferson, however, opened the second half with a renewed commitment to the running game and produced a 14-yard march that ended with Wood scoring from a yard out on fourth down, cutting Flowery Branch’s lead to 16-13.

“We just set our jaw,” Moore said. “We went into the locker room and made adjustments, coaches made adjustments.”

“We stuck with what our game plan was,” said Cathcart, “and I think our kids responded.”

For the Dragons, who lost in the final minute at Thomson on Sept. 2, this marked a second-straight game decided in the final quarter.

While Jefferson fell short at Thomson, it made the plays to win this time.

“There’s something special inside of them,” Cathcart said. “A lot of people, I think, around here expect us to compete with last year’s team, with Caleb Chandler and Dontae (Wilson) and those guys … We just compare to where we start to where we are now, and I’m just very proud of the progress they’ve made.”


Marcus Rodrigue

Updated: Sept. 15, 2017, 11:46 p.m.

The Jefferson High football team enjoyed a winning tradition for the last four seasons under former coach Ben Hall. On Friday night, he nearly handed the Dragons a loss.

Jefferson overcame a 10-point halftime deficit and staved off a late push to defeat Hall-led Flowery Branch High 35-29 at Memorial Stadium.

The hard-fought game came down to a onside kick in the final minute recovered by Dragons junior Zac Corbin.

“It was emotional when we first got here, and it is now, seeing old friends and colleagues,” Hall said. “But when we got between the lines, the emotion drained out of it and our kids battled. We just need to get better at playing four quarters and closing games out.”

Hall spent eight years at Jefferson, the first four as offensive coordinator. He took over as head coach following the team’s Class 2A championship in 2012, leading the Dragons to a 44-8 mark, two region titles and an appearance in the Class 4A semifinals last season.

Dragons coach Gene Cathcart, who served as offensive coordinator under Hall and has worked with him at prior stops, praised his former colleague’s poise in his emotional homecoming.

“Ben’s an outstanding coach, one of my best friends in coaching,” Cathcart said. “He’s one of the coaches that I respect the most. I even got emotional shaking hands with him and his players after the game.”

Jefferson senior running back Colby Wood keyed the second-half surge with 148 yards and three of his team’s four scores after the break. He produced the Dragons’ go-ahead touchdown, followed by another that put the game out of reach.

The Falcons (3-1), who entered the game receiving votes in the Georgia Sports Writers Association’s Class 5A top 10 poll, got 236 yards and a score on seven catches from junior receiver Jalin Strown.

Senior running back Malik Damons toughed out 114 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 32 carries.

Alexander Sanchez scored first for Flowery Branch with a 25-yard field goal on the game’s first possession.

The teams traded turnovers before Jefferson senior quarterback Bryce Moore found Corbin for an 8-yard touchdown on a quick slant. The extra point, however, went awry.

Falcons sophomore Elijah Gainey (8 of 14, 256 yards, two touchdowns) led a scoring drive in response, hitting senior tight end Nick Lance for an 18-yard touchdown off of play-action.

This time, Flowery Branch missed the point after.

Strown put the Falcons ahead 16-6 at halftime with a spectacular play, juking his lone defender on a short, third-down pass and racing into the end zone for an 84-yard score.

Cathcart said some of the emotions surrounding the game led him to call plays a bit too aggressively and impatiently.

“I maybe got a little too aggressive, made it a little bit too much about me and Ben, which I said I wouldn’t do,” Cathcart said. “I was coaching angry in the first half, and I told the team I was sorry.”

That realization — coupled with an adjustment in the running game — led to the Dragons (3-1), ranked No. 5 in Class 4A, outscoring Flowery Branch 29-13 after halftime.

Wood, who gained just 30 yards on seven carries in the first half, racked up 45 yards on Jefferson’s first possession of the third quarter and scored from 1 yard out on fourth and goal.

He continued eating up chunks of yards as the game went on, which Cathcart attributed to a newfound commitment to the running game in the second half.

“They came back with some great adjustments and ran the counter well,” Hall said.

“They attacked what we gave them, and we couldn’t stop it.”

Though the Falcons struck back with a touchdown of their own on fourth and goal, the Dragons soon seized complete control of the contest.

After Flowery Branch missed its second extra point on the night, Moore led Jefferson right back down the field, scrambling for 41 yards on third down and cutting the score to 22-20 with a 9-yard touchdown to Corbin.

The Falcons turned the ball over on downs on their next two possessions, which Wood converted into scoring runs of 1 and 8 yards, the last one coming with less than two minutes left.

He finished with 178 rushing yards on 31 carries and seven receptions for 34 yards.

Flowery Branch made things interesting with a frantic drive during which Strown hauled in three big catches.

Damons scored from 5 yards out with 49 seconds remaining, but Corbin snatched the onside kick out of the air to seal the close victory for Jefferson.

After outscoring their first three opponents 112-13, the Falcons tasted defeat for the first time under Hall.

If his tenure is anything like it was at Jefferson, Hall’s players won’t experience that feeling too often.

“We’ve got kids believing in each other and trusting each other,” the coach said.

“When you get a group of teenagers playing together, special things can happen. … We’ve just got to work on closing out games better.”

The Falcons open Region 8-5A play at Johnson next Friday, while Jefferson travels to face Gainesville.


At Gainesville, Bryce Moore accounted for three Jefferson touchdowns as the Dragons – ranked No. 3 in Class 4A – posted a lopsided 33-3 victory over Gainesville.

Moore threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Garmon Randolph in the first quarter and hit Colby Wood on a 31-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. He also scored on a 5-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Colby Wood scored on a 5-yard run in the second quarter and Donsha Gaither closed out the scoring with a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Moore completed 12 of 23 passes for 243 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Colby Clark recorded 16 tackles for the Dragons’ defense.

Jefferson (4-1) will begin Region 8-4A play at 7:30 p.m. Friday, hosting Madison County.


GAINESVILLE — Jefferson football spent much of the offseason focusing on improving its passing game.

On Friday night, the Dragons showed off the fruits of that labor at Gainesville's expense.

Jefferson quarterback Bryce Moore completed 11 of 17 passes for 217 yards to help lead the Dragons to a 33-3 win over Gainesville at City Park.

Moore was intercepted twice -- both by Rassie Littlejohn, who also pounced on a fumble to end the night with three turnovers -- but his big plays through the air helped spark the Dragons offense against a Red Elephants defense determined to slow Jefferson's powerful rushing attack.

Zac Corbin hauled in a 65-yard reception, while Sammy Elegreet (four receptions, 68 yards), Garmon Randolph (four catches, 40 yards) and Colby Wood (three receptions, 44 yards) also made big plays through the air.

Wood finished with just 25 yards rushing in limited carries, and Jefferson rushed for just 155 yards as a team.

But thanks to its passing attack and a strong defensive effort, it was only a footnote to a night in which the third-ranked Dragons (4-1) rolled to a 20-0 halftime advantage.

Still missing starting quarterback Tre Luttrell, Gainesville's offense was forced to its third and fourth options when back-up Chandler Watson left the game in the second quarter. Freshmen Robert Reisman (a back-up quarterback) and Montavious Tabor (the team's starting running back) each took snaps at quarterback the rest of the way. And while Tabor impressed at times, rushing for 122 yards, Gainesville could not sustain enough offensive momentum against the visitors.

The Red Elephants (1-3) finished with 252 total yards, a third quarter field goal pulling Gainesville within 20-3 before the Dragons pulled away with two unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Jefferson will look to keep rolling next week against Madison County at home.

Gainesville travels to Marist next week.

Dragons run past Madison County 49 - 0 

At Jefferson, the Dragons, playing without Colby Wood, who was sidelined last week with an ankle injury, scored 20 points in the second quarter and 22 in the third quarter to run away from Madison County 49-0 in both teams’ Region 8-4A opener.

Justin Cole tallied Jefferson’s first score on a 14-yard run in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Colby Clark scored on a 2-yard run, Zac Corbin scored on a 41-yard punt return and Sammy Elegreet scored on a 26-yard pass from Bryce Moore.

In the third quarter, Donsha Gaither scored on a 1-yard run, Clark tallied on a 2-yard run and Terrell Wall returned an interception 40 yards for the Dragons’ final touchdown.

Jefferson, ranked No. 3 in Class 4A, was led on the ground by Gaither (12 attempts, 128 yards, one touchdown) and Clarke (14 attempts, 80 yards, two touchdowns).

Moore completed 8 of 13 passes for 122 yards and one touchdown.

Madison County was held to 33 rushing yards and 116 passing yards.

The Dragons (5-1, 1-0) are off next week and will host North Oconee on Oct. 31.

Madison County (2-4, 0-1) is off next week and will host Stephens County on Oct. 31. 


GA HS Football Rankings

Class AAAA

1. Cartersville (6-0)

2. Thomson (4-0)

3. Marist (6-0)

4. Jefferson (5-1)

5. Blessed Trinity (5-1)

6. Ridgeland (5-0)

7. Troup (6-0)

8. Burke County (5-0)

9. Woodward Academy (5-1)

10. Mary Persons (4-2)

11. Cedartown (5-1)

12. Sandy Creek (3-2)


Jefferson runs by North Oconee 44 - 0

At Jefferson, Colby Wood rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown and Bryce Moore completed 20 of 25 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns as the Dragons – ranked No. 3 in Class 4A – crushed North Oconee 44-0 in Region 8-4A.  

Wood kicked off the scoring in the first quarter on a 5-yard run and Moore threw his first touchdown pass – a 19-yarder – to Zac Corbin in the second quarter to put the Dragons up 14-0. Moore then found Wood open on a 13-yard touchdown pass and Hayden Kilgore kicked a 25-yard field goal to give Jefferson a 24-0 halftime lead. In the third quarter, Moore threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Justin Cole and Donsha Gaither scored on a 7-yard run. In the final quarter, Colby Clark reached the end zone on a 2-yard run.


Jefferson 44, North Oconee 0: Passing attack sparks Dragons in homecoming win

Posted by Ben Munro

Friday, October 13. 2017

On a night when Jefferson High School retired two jerseys and named its homecoming queen, the football team made time for some on-the-field highlights, too.

With North Oconee keying to stop the Dragons’ running game, senior quarterback Bryce Moore torched the Titans for 276 passing yards and three touchdowns as Jefferson romped past North Oconee 44-0 on Friday at home.

“We’re turning into more of a balanced offense,” Moore said. “Guys are playing off (tailback) Colby (Wood), which everybody should. It’s fun turning into a balanced offense. It’s going well.”

Jefferson scored on each of its seven possessions in topping the 40-point mark for the fourth time this year.

“In terms of offense, I think we may have scored every possession,” coach Gene Cathcart said. “That’s a very productive night.”

Moore threw touchdown passes to Zac Corbin (19 yards), Colby Wood (13 yards) and Justin Cole (6 yards) on a 20-of-25 night through the air as Jefferson won its fourth straight game.

Sammy Elegreet led all Jefferson receivers with four catches for 86 yards.

“Our guys got open when they had to — Sammy, Sunshine (Zac Corbin), Colby and even Justin, our fullback,” Moore said. “They’re getting open in space, so it’s helping me out a lot.”

“He did a great job,” Cathcart said of Moore. “We tried to mix it up a little bit and spread it around. He did a good job. Them having an open week, they gave us some different looks that we kind of were expecting.”

Wood had a solid night, too, in his first action since the first half of the Sept. 22 Gainesville game, running for 107 yards and a touchdown and catching a touchdown pass.

Meanwhile, the Dragon defense notched its second consecutive shutout and third of the season.

North Oconee’s best chance of scoring came in the first quarter when it drove to the Dragon 17, but Jefferson’s defense recorded back-to-back tackles-for-loss, forcing a field goal attempt, which the Titans botched.

North Oconee moved to the Dragon 35 in the second quarter, but Corbin ended the drive with an interception.

“Our defense pitched another shutout,” Moore said. “Defense wins championships. Offense just puts up points.”

Cathcart credited defensive coordinator Tom Parker and his staff.

“That staff, we’re so well prepared defensively, and our kids are in such good position,” Cathcart said.

Jefferson built up a 24-0 lead by halftime with Wood scoring on a five-yard run, Moore throwing touchdown passes to Corbin and Wood and Hayden Kilgore kicking a 25-yard field goal.

The Dragons then opened the second half with their most interesting scoring drive night of the night.

Jefferson faced a 1st and 51 after an offensive pass interference call, followed by back-to-back 15-yard penalties on Cathcart who had voiced his displeasure.

“I acted like a spoiled 12-year-old kid with the officials, and I apologize for that,” Cathcart said. “I didn’t set a very good example for our guys.”

Still, Jefferson managed to knock out a first down — with Elegreet snagging a key 31-yard pass on the drive — and scored with Moore throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass to Cole to up the lead to 30-0.

Cathcart said he’s actually faced worse than 1st-and-51 in his coaching career.

“Actually, I’m embarrassed to tell you I’ve faced a 3rd-and-56 before … I kept putting our kids in a bind and they kept responding,” he said. “So, I was very proud of them.”

Donsha Gaither added a 7-yard touchdown in the third quarter and Colby Clark tacked on a 2-yard touchdown in the fourth as the Dragons completed the rout.

“It’s nice to have Donsha and Colby Clark to come in, and Justin,” Cathcart said.

“Justin Cole played an outstanding game.”

It was a festive night overall for Jefferson.

In addition to homecoming, the school retired the jerseys of former Jefferson baseball star Chris Beck, who now pitches for the Chicago White Sox, and former football standout Brandon Mosley, who played three seasons in the NFL.

Jefferson also won its ninth consecutive home game and remained in a first-place tie in Region 8-AAAA with St. Pius X — which it plays next week — with the victory.

“It was a good night, homecoming night,” Cathcart said. “I’m just glad to see it in the rearview mirror.”


St. Pius 43, Jefferson 29

St. Pius’ option offense is a throwback to yesteryear and their time machine is traveling at warp speed.

The Golden Lions scored 28 first-half points, all on rushing plays, which set the tone for a 43-29 upset victory against the visiting Jefferson Dragons. Like a popular hashtag phrase flooding social media website timelines, the Golden Lions are trending in an upward direction.

This stunning triumph extends their winning streak to three in a row after starting the year at 0-5. The team’s 43 points was the highest total posted on the scoreboard this season.

“The credit goes to our seniors. We only have 14 seniors. We started off the season at 0-5 playing the toughest schedule in 4A. They didn’t let anyone get down,” said St. Pius head coach Paul Standard. “Nobody panicked. We stayed the course and kept getting better. Jefferson is a well-coached and they’re talented, but our young men played their hearts out. Each game we’ve rushed for over 300 yards each game. Coach Chad Garrison does a great job with the offensive line.”

St. Pius led 7-6 in the first stanza before exploding for 21 points in the second quarter.

Running back Jason Jones put his signature on the game when he took an option pitch from quarterback Connor Egan and sprinted by the defense for a 44-yard touchdown.

Jefferson quickly responded with a score of its own on the ensuing possession. Wide receiver Sammy Elegreet hauled in a 13-yard reception from Bryce Moore to draw even at 14.

St. Pius took this punch and answered the bell with trips to the end zone on consecutive drives to go ahead 28-14 at intermission.

The Dragons opened the second half with a strong drive which was extended by roughing the passer penalty and a 56-yard run by Colby Wood. The swift running back carried the ball to the 3-yard line which set up a short touchdown by Justin Cole, shrinking the score to 28-21.

Later in the frame, Egan called his own number for the Golden Lions and pushed the ball across the goal line on a quarterback keeper to extend the lead to 35-21.

This score would hold to close out the third quarter. However, Jefferson refused to go away with ease. Elegreet recorded his second touchdown of the evening and following a successful 2-point conversion, the Dragons trailed 35-29.

With the momentum slipping through the Golden Lions’ fingers, Egan methodically led his squad downfield in pursuit of victory. The quarterback took matters into his own hands and feet. He first threw a long pass to get within striking distance. The signal caller then muscled his way on a strong touchdown run on third-and-seven from the 10.

“Jefferson is a talented team and they made it a difficult fight. Our linemen did a terrific job. It’s easy when I got those hogs in front of me. They may not be the biggest, but they know how to get in there and get dirty. They make it easy for me and our backs,” said Egan.

This shocking defeat snaps Jefferson’s four-game winning streak. During this run, the Dragons gave up 32 points and posted back-to-back shutouts in the process.

“They just put on a clinic with the triple option offense. We had to answer offensively and match them score-for-score. We’re disappointed. I thought we were ready to play. Obviously, I didn’t have them ready to play and that’s on me,” said Jefferson head coach Gene Cathcart.


St. Pius Locks Down Region Title - Smacks Down Dragons 43 - 29

St. Pius X’s triple option attack was as good as advertised — and then some.

The Golden Lions ran for 396 yards and scored on all of its offensive possessions, with the exception of a kneel-down at the end of the game, to upset Jefferson 43-29 Friday in Atlanta.

“Obviously, they put on a clinic in the triple-option offense,” Dragon coach Gene Cathcart said. “That was frustrating … We’ve leaned on our defense so often in the past that offensively, when you have a game like, this you’ve got to answer.” Cathcart added he “never felt like we played as well offensively as we needed to do to win a game like that.”

The Golden Lions' win snapped an eight-game winning streak in region play for Jefferson (6-2, 2-1).

St. Pius X (3-5), at 3-0 in region play, now has the inside track for the Region 8-AAAA title.

“All the credit in the world to (coach) Paul (Standard) and them,” Cathcart said.

“What a great job their guys did in executing and executing that offense to a T.”

Jefferson’s Colby Wood finished with 169 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, but the Dragons had few answers for St. Pius X’s offense.

The Golden Lions finished with 503 total yards, which included a perfect 4-for-4 night passing for 107 yards.

“We needed at some point to take away something, and never really took away the fullback, never really took away the quarterback and never really took away the pitch and never took away the throws down the field,” Cathcart said. “And that’s frustrating.”

Despite its struggles, Jefferson pulled to within six points of St. Pius X with 10:22 left in the game. Bryce Moore threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Elegreet and ran for a 2-point conversion to cut the lead to 35-29, but the Dragons couldn’t manage a stop on defense.

With St. Pius facing a 2nd-and-15, quarterback Connor Egan connected on a 42-yard pass to Sam Schwaner to move St. Pius into Jefferson territory. Egan scored six plays later from seven yards out and then hit Zachary Ranson for a two-point conversion to put the Golden Lions up 43-29 with 5:04 left in the game.

Moore was intercepted on the first play of the subsequent drive, which sealed the win for St. Pius. The Golden Lions proceeded to run out the clock.

The 43 points surrendered where the most by Jefferson since a 61-57 win over Heard County in 2013.

St. Pius’ option attack was clicking early and often as the Golden Lions opened with a 15-play, 77-yard drive, ending in a one-yard score from Michael Benefield. It was the first of three first-half touchdowns for Benefield. He later scored on a 22-yarder and gave St. Pius a 28-14 halftime lead when he took an option pitch 59 yards to the end zone.

Jason Jones also had a 44-yard touchdown run for the Golden Lions, who rushed for 272 yards in the first half.

Jefferson got first-half touchdowns from Wood, who scored from 13 yards out, and Zac Corbin, who caught a 13-yard pass from Moore. Moore finished 9-of-18 for 129 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Dragons opened the second half with a 3-yard touchdown run from Justin Cole, which was set up by a 56-yard jaunt by Wood. But St. Pius answered with a 2-yard scoring run from Egan, which put the Golden Lions ahead 35-21.

Jefferson will travel next week to Stephens County, which beat Oconee County 24-17 Friday.

Cathcart said his team must band together in the wake of the loss. “Hopefully, we’ll all stick together and love each other,” he said. “My message to them was it’s not going to be the Bataan Death March next week. It’s going to be the same practice schedule and the same everything. We’ve got to get better, and make sure I have us better prepared next week.”

Dragons Hold On For 27-24 Win over Stephens County


JEFFERSON 28, OCONEE CO. 21: Wood, Moore lead Jefferson to Senior Night win

Posted by Ben Munro

Friday, November 3, 2017

Colby Wood and Bryce Moore made sure Jefferson’s Senior Night was one worth celebrating. Wood ran for 226 yards and a touchdown and Moore threw for 225 yards and three touchdowns — one of which went to Wood — as the Dragons (8-2, 4-1) beat Oconee County 28-21 at home Friday.

The victory locked up the No. 2 seed out of Region 8-AAAA and assured the Dragons of at least one home game in the state playoffs. Jefferson will host White County next week.

“A lot of seniors were emotional,” Wood said. “They wanted to play one more game here.”

Jefferson broke a 7-7 tie with three unanswered touchdowns to take a 28-7 lead at the half.

Moore, who was 14-of-18 on the night passing, threw touchdown passes to Garmon Randolph (16 yards), Zac Corbin (23 yards) and Wood (32 yards).

Meanwhile, Wood — who scored the game’s first touchdown with a 10-yard run in the first quarter – had 120 yards rushing in the first half. Wood added 57 yards receiving to finish with 283 yards of total offense for the game.

Jefferson coach Gene Cathcart praised his senior duo of Wood and Moore. “Colby’s career speaks for itself,” Cathcart said. “What an awesome player. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more productive high school player in my life. I’m just extremely proud of him. And Bryce, what more can you say about him bouncing back this year and the year that he’s had."

Jefferson had to hang on to win though. Oconee County scored on a 6-yard run late in the third quarter and again one a one-yard quarterback keeper from Max Johnson with 3:25 left in the game to cut Jefferson’s lead to 28-21.

“We had opportunities to put them away and didn’t,” Cathcart said. “We just weren’t able to do that. That was frustrating.”

But Wood proved to be the Dragons’ closer. Needing to knock out a couple of first downs on the final drive to end the game, Jefferson gave the ball to Wood seven times, which included a 36-yard run to the Oconee County 25-yard line to ice the win.

Jefferson’s defense generated a pair of interceptions on the night in its effort to slow Oconee County’s potent passing attack. Terrell Wall’s first-quarter interception set up Jefferson’s third touchdown of the night. An interception from Wood in the end zone late in the first half stopped a Warrior drive deep into Dragon territory.

“The interception there at the end of the first half was huge by Colby,” Cathcart said. “That was a huge momentum spurt going into halftime.”

Cathcart said he was disappointed he wasn’t able to get all the seniors into the game due to the closeness of the score in the second half. “As a coach, that hurts your heart, because those guys work awfully, awfully hard,” he said.

The coach said he was proud of this senior class, which has a 42-7 record in four years.

“It’s a very proud group, and I know they’ll always be special to me being my first year here,” he said.

Jefferson now goes into next week’s playoff game against White County hoping to extend a streak of five-straight victories in the first round.

“We believe in ourselves,” Wood said. “We can go as far as we want to. We’ve just got to take it one game at a time and just execute what the coaches have each week and just believe in each other.”


Jefferson didn’t have many offensive possessions against White County Friday.   But the Dragons (9-2) — and especially Colby Wood — made the most of their opportunities in a 29-13 win over the visiting Warriors (7-4) in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.

"They came over here believing in what they were doing. I didn’t think we were going to get any possessions I think we had five possessions maybe the whole game, scoring four times and then ran out the clock. That was very, very very frustrating but defensively we only gave up two scores," Jefferson coach Gene Cathcart said.

"We say all the time our scoring defense is our main objective so it wasn’t pretty but it was a win. Wins are like supermodels, there’s no ugly ones." 

White County scored quickly with an 83-yard touchdown run by Kaleb Crane less than 30 seconds into the game.

Jefferson answered with a 9-yard run from Justin Cole and added a successful 2-point conversion to take an 8-7 lead.

Bryce Moore connected with Wood on a 21-yard scoring pass in the second quarter to give Jefferson a 15-7 lead the half.

White County opened the second half with a successful onside kick.

Jefferson senior Addison Clay picked off a pass shortly after and returned it 30 yards. Wood ended the drive with an 8-yard scoring run.

Crane scored on a 7-yard run to cut into Jefferson’s lead. Wood broke up the pass attempt on the 2-point conversion.

Wood ended the game with an 18-yard touchdown run in what could be the final home game for the Dragons.

“I just bought into what the coaches were saying,” said Wood, who finished with 149 yards and two rushing touchdowns on 23 carries. “They were saying just be patient, power, stretch, toss, they will open up and I just believed in my offensive line, thanking them for what they’ve done for me the past four years.”

Jefferson will play at Ridgeland at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the second round of the playoffs. Ridgeland defeated Chapel Hill 63-7.


JEFFERSON — After what appeared to be a lackluster finish to the regular season, Jefferson coach Gene Cathcart had a message to all those who have been wondering what was wrong with the Dragons.

“Their coach is short, fat, and bald. Other than that, we’re just fine,” he said after the Dragons held off White County 29-13 Friday night at Memorial Stadium in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs.

“People are wanting to compare this team to last year or the 2012 (state championship) team. This is a different team. All I know is that we’re 9-2 now and we’re 30 seconds and one drive from being undefeated. And, we get to play again next week.”

Jefferson dropped a disappointing 43-29 decision to St. Pius in what turned out to be the deciding game for the region championship and then narrow wins over Stephens County and Oconee County had fans worried as they opened the 2017 playoffs.

Those naysayers’ concerns probably grew even more when White County got an electrifying 83-yard touchdown run from Kaleb Crane on the opening play of the game to grab the quick lead.

“It wasn’t the kind of start we wanted but I was proud of how our guys responded,” Catchcart said. “We knew they were going to give us a game and they did.”

The Jefferson offense answered right back on their first drive when Justin Cole capped an 8-play, 72-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run.

The Dragons then took an 8-7 lead when Colby Wood ran in a 2-point conversion after the Warriors were called for offsides on the extra point attempt. They never trailed again.

Crane’s opening run typified his season as he motored around left end, ran over one Dragon defender, and then broke free to outrace the rest of the Jefferson defense for a stunning 7-0 lead just 24 seconds into the game. He finished with 193 yards on 32 carries.

After Jefferson reclaimed the lead, the Warriors went to work again mounting a long 18-play drive that chewed up 7:48 of the clock. But it stalled at the Jefferson 33 after Crane was stuffed on two runs and then two J. Ben Haynes passes fell incomplete as they turned it over on downs.

Jefferson used that momentum to extend its lead to 15-7 with a 21-yard pass from Bryce Moore to Wood that finished off an 11-play drive with 7:55 left in the half.

The White County offense mounted another long drive that saw the Warriors move to the Jefferson 1 with just under 20 seconds left. A wild sequence then ended the half with Jefferson still clinging to its lead.

Haynes was stopped in bounds for no gain on a sprint left to the pylon and then, while in the shotgun formation, he was called for intentional grounding with under 10 seconds left resulting in a 10-second runoff to end the half with the Warriors at the Dragons 1.

White County coach Tim Cokely said they executed exactly how he wanted. They just didn’t get that last yard. “We ran that sequence the way we’ve run it many times but we didn’t get in the end zone and then we made the mistake there (at the end of the half),” Cokely said. “Obviously you want to get points there but we still felt like we were in good position.”

The Warriors opened the second half with an onsides kick and recovered it at the Jefferson 40. But on the second play Jefferson’s Addison Clay picked off a Haynes pass at the 10 and returned it to the Dragons 38.

On the ensuing drive Moore connected twice with Sammy Elegreet, including a key 13-yard strike to the White County 9, and then Wood finished it off on the next play for a 22-7 lead.

The Warriors used another long drive on their next possession to pull within 22-13 on a 5-yard Crane scoring run with 11:12 left but instead of kicking an extra point Cokely elected for a 2-point pass that was swatted down by Colby Wood.

The Dragons needed just four plays to seal it.

Two Wood runs, a 41-yard pass from Moore to Elegreet, and a 20-yard blast up the middle by Wood made it 29-13 with 9:34 left.

“We just made too many mistakes and I made of couple of calls in the second half that I shouldn't've so I’ll take the blame,” Cokely said. “But these guys had a great season and got a look at what the playoffs are about. Hopefully we can build on this for next season.”

Jefferson (191 yards) was outrushed by Crane but Moore was a stellar 7-of-9 for 118 yards and one touchdown.

Wood had 148 yards rushing for the Dragons.

Haynes, a freshman, finished 13-of-21 for 115 yards and one interception for White County.

He and the entire Warriors offense was harassed by Jefferson linebacker Colby Clark, who piled up 18 tackles for the Dragons.

Jefferson now will turn its attention to Region 6-AAAA champion Ridgeland, which demolished Chapel Hill 63-7 in its first round matchup, in next week's Sweet 16.

“We’re going to enjoy this one for a day and then we’ll get to work on next week,” Catchcart said.


White Co.....7.....0....0....6 -- 13

Jefferson.....8.....7....7....7 -- 29

First Quarter

W -- Crane 83 run (Bardenwerper kick) 7-0, 11:36

J -- Cole 9 run (Wood run) 8-7, 8:36

Second Quarter

J -- Wood 21 pass from Moore (Kilgore kick) 15-7, 7:55

Third Quarter

J -- Wood 9 run (Kilgore kick) 22-7, 7:33

Fourth Quarter

W -- Crane 5 run (pass failed) 22-13, 11:12

J -- Wood 20 run (Kilgore kick) 29-13, 9:34


 Pitted against a dominant but unchallenged Ridgeland team in the second round of the state playoffs, Jefferson’s postseason poise and grit won out in the end. 

In a 14-0 hole early, the Dragons (10-2) reeled off 28 straight points and produced a defensive stand late in the game to pull off a 28-21 upset of the previously unbeaten Panthers (11-1) on the road Friday. Ridgeland had trounced its opponents by an average of 41 points per game coming into the contest.

“We just never gave up,” receiver/defensive back Zac Corbin said. “We never put our heads down. We just kept fighting. We knew they were a good team, and we knew we had to stay close with them.”

Justin Cole ran for a touchdown and Corbin caught three touchdown passes from Bryce Moore as Jefferson rallied past the Region 6-AAAA champions.

The Dragons, who traveled nearly three hours for this matchup, sealed the win with an interception from Terrell Wall with 2:31 left.

The victory marked the sixth straight season Jefferson has won at least 10 games.

“I’m awfully proud of them,” coach Gene Cathcart said. “That’s a long, long ride. To deal with that and to deal with the adversity of really what amounts to a third or fourth-round matchup ability-wise … I’m just awfully proud of all of our guys.”

Jefferson will move on to the state quarterfinals for the fourth time in the last five years where it will face Mary Persons High School.

In the first quarter, Ridgeland looked very much like the team that had been bullying foes with 40- and 50-point margins of victory.

Tanner Hill threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Stephon Walker to cap the Panthers’ first offensive possession, followed by a Jefferson fumble. That led to another Ridgeland scoring drive, this time finished off with an 8-yard touchdown run from Jalyn Shelton.

Jefferson’s Colby Wood, however, helped turn the game with a kickoff return to the Panther 16. Cole scored one play later to cut the Ridgeland lead to 14-6.

The Dragon defense further swung the momentum in Jefferson’s favor, producing a fourth-down stop at their own 49-yard line.

The offense responded with a 10-play scoring drive, which ended with Moore throwing an 8-yard touchdown pass to Corbin on fourth down.

Moore then hit a wide-open Garmon Randolph for the game-tying two-point conversion.

Jefferson squandered a scoring opportunity on is fourth possession, fumbling the ball into the end zone for a touchback, but it cashed in on its fifth possession.

Moore found Corbin again, with Corbin pulling down a 26-yard touchdown reception against man-to-man coverage late in the second quarter.

“They thought there were going to come in and man us up with superior athletes to our receivers … when we know you’re in man coverage, our receivers are pretty good players,” Cathcart said.

Moore then threw to Randolph, who made a juggling grab for the two-point conversion to give Jefferson a 22-14 lead.

The touchdown and two-point conversion were set up by an interception and return from Kade McNally to the Ridgeland 28.

Jefferson opened the second half with a 10-play scoring drive that included three third-down conversions.

The Dragons scored on a third-and-seven with Corbin snagging a 21-yard touchdown strike from Moore to put Jefferson up 28-14.

“Zac Corbin had one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen a high school kid ever have — catch after catch after catch,” Cathcart said.

Ridgeland threatened to keep its season alive with a one-yard touchdown run from Shelton on fourth down with 8:53 left in the game.

The Panther defense then forced two punts, but the Ridgeland offense misfired on both subsequent possessions.

Wall ended the Panthers’ final possession by picking off a pass at the Jefferson 48.

He called the moment “emotional.” “I just broke on it at a good time and it hit me in the hands and luckily I picked it off,” Wall said.

The victory insured that the Dragons would play past Thanksgiving yet again, which has become something of a tradition at Jefferson the past few years.

“This is a special thing when you get to practice on Thanksgiving day,” Cathcart said. “You’re one of the war daddies that’s left, and that’s what I told them. I’m just extremely, extremely proud of them.”



Jefferson scores 28 unanswered points in win over Ridgeland

Nov. 17, 2017, 11:06 PM

At Rossville, Jefferson came back from an early 14-0 deficit and scored 28 unanswered points to defeat Ridgeland 28-21 in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

The Dragons advance to the state quarterfinals for the fourth time in the last five years.

Justin Cole recorded Jefferson’s first touchdown on a 16-yard run late in the first quarter to put the Dragons to within seven points at 14-7.

In the second quarter, Bryce Moore tossed the first of three touchdown passes to Zac Corbin, this one an 8-yarder, with 9:05 remaining before halftime to tie the score at 14-14.

Moore found Corbin open again on a 26-yard touchdown pass with 1:05 left in the first half to put the Dragons up 22-14.

In the third quarter, Moore and Corbin connected again on a 21-yard pass that gave Jefferson a 28-14 advantage.

Terrell Wall preserved the victory with an interception at the 2:31 mark of the fourth quarter.

Moore completed 11 of 19 passes for 153 yards and three touchdowns and Corbin had six receptions for 117 yards and three scores.

Corbin also recorded 10 tackles (eight solos) and one tackle for loss.

Colby Wood rushed 20 times for 73 yards and had kickoff returns of 73 and 46 yards, both of which set up Dragons touchdowns.

Wood also had six tackles.

Colby Clark and Blake Ehl also had 10 tackles and Cade McNally posted an interception for the Dragons.

Jefferson (10-2) will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mary Persons in Forsyth in the quarterfinals.

Mary Persons advanced with a 39-14 victory over Baldwin.

Ridgeland finishes the season at 11-1.