There’s room for optimism for the Jefferson County football team heading into Friday night’s contest against Anderson County.
The Patriots, who are 0-5 to start the season for the first time in school history, played as good of football as they have played all season during the first half of last Friday against Science Hill.
And now, they will try and carry over that play to this Friday.
“I was definitely encouraged with what we did in the first half Friday,” Jeff County coach Spencer Riley said. “We played a great first half. We executed well, moved the ball how we wanted to and we did what we wanted to do. Our kids were locked in. We are just preaching this week that we’re going to play loose and free for four quarters and let the chips fall where they may.”
Jeff County’s success came from their passing game in the first half on Friday. With Connor Cawood out with an ankle injury, Stephen McReynolds filled in and threw two touchdown passes in the half, with the second one coming with 20 seconds left.
Whereas the past weeks, Jefferson County panic and rushed when they made turnovers or a play didn’t go their way, that wasn’t the case against Science Hill. The Hilltoppers scored the first touchdown of the game, but Jeff County hit back on the next drive with a 78-yard touchdown pass to Kade Parker. Then, with time winding down in the half, McReynolds threw a pick six that gave Science Hill a 14-6 lead.
But once again, the Pirates didn’t panic, marching right now the field for another touchdown, this one to Collin Young.
“We showed some really good character,” Riley said. “I was definitely encouraged with what we saw and how we executed especially after they scored both times in the first half.”
It will be no easy task on Friday night though for the Patriots as they take on Anderson County in their final non-region game of the year.
The Mavericks come into Friday’s contest with a 3-2 record with wins over a 4-1 Clinton team, Hixson and Howard. Anderson County has a two-point loss to Powell on their record and a one-point loss to South Doyle.
Anderson County is led by their quarterback Walker Martinez and wide receiver Josh Miller. Last week against Howard, Martinez threw for 177 yards and two touchdowns while Miller had 144 receiving yards and two scores.
“They’re a big and physical football team,” Riley said. “They have some really good skill kids. They have a freshman running back who is really good as well. They do a great job of doing what they do. It’s going to be a challenge for us defensively.”
It is the halfway point of the season for the Patriots, who are obviously not where they want to be. The Patriots are on a 12-game losing streak carrying over from last season.
For Riley, he just wants to see his team continue to get better and become a more consistent team.
“We want to carry over that we want to be a better football team each week,” Riley said. “I want to see us carry over what we did in the first half last week and play a solid four quarters offensively and defensively. Special teams, we’ve done pretty good. I just want to see us continue to be locked in there.”
Kickoff for Friday night is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.