Something will have to give when the Jefferson County football team travels to Knoxville to take on Hardin Valley, Friday night.
Both the Patriots and Hawks come into the contest without a win on their resume. With both teams all but eliminated from playoff contention, Friday’s contest will be more about bragging rights and carrying some momentum into the offseason.
With the Patriots losing streak up to 15 games for Jefferson County dating back to last season, head coach Spencer Riley wants to see one specific thing out of his team.
“I just want to see us compete and play for four quarters,” Riley said. “That’s what I want to see them do. If we can do that, we have a chance. We played for three quarters last Friday night, so I would like to see us play for four quarters and let the chips fall where they may.”
Last Friday against Bearden, it seemed as if the Patriots losing streak was going to come to an end as Jeff County jumped out to an early 21-6 lead.
However, the Jefferson County offense faltered, and Bearden took advantage of two turnovers, going on a 27-3 run to end the game.
“It’s not like they beat us,” Riley said. “We beat ourselves. We didn’t execute very well offensively well in the second half and we didn’t tackle well in the second half. We just need to be better. They made adjustments on the defensive side of the ball, and we didn’t handle it very well.”
Now, the Patriots get set to take on a Hardin Valley team that is a stark contrast from previous years Hardin Valley teams.
Jeff County enters the game 0-5 against Hardin Valley. Now, they have their best opportunity against the Hawks.
“I expect them to throw the ball a lot,” Riley said. “They have about 30 rushes a game, but they do want to throw it more than in the past. They rely on a sophomore quarterback who manages the game really well for them. I expect them to come out throwing the football.”
If the Patriots want to get in the win column Friday night, they will need to stop a weaker run game than in years past from Hardin Valley. Last year, the Hawks had current Furman running back Kelton Gunn who accounted for over 2,500 all-purpose yards and 30 touchdowns in his career. He was the Region 1-6A Offensive Player of the Year in 2019.
Without him, the Hardin Valley run game has not been the same, something Riley thinks his team can take advantage of.
“I hope that we can manage their run game,” Riley said. “If we can do that, that’ll help us in our secondary and will hopefully be able to be a difference maker for us.”
With the season winding down and Jeff County having their bye week next week, there’s not a lot of chances left for the senior class to break this losing streak. Friday night, will be their best chance.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.