Morristown East has had plenty of chances throughout their first four football games to get on the win column and Friday night was no exception.
However, as has been the case during those four games, turnovers and penalties got in the way.
East (0-4, 0-1) had four turnovers on Friday night against Campbell County to go along with nine penalties for 93 yards. Those two things proved to be the difference in the game.
Now, East will try and correct those things as they head into a huge region matchup against Jefferson County (2-2, 1-0)
“The big thing is that we turned the ball over in the red zone,” East coach Caleb Slover said. “We had four turnovers and a few of them were in the red zone. That’s opportunities to score and win the ballgame. We had mistakes on defense on the last few drives as well. We had chances to make stops but didn’t. Again, it’s all things that are fixable and correctable. We just have to make sure we do it.”
This will be the first contest between Jefferson County and Morristown East since 2019, a game in which Jeff County came out on top 27-21. The Patriots hold a 29-9 lead in the series and have won the last three contests.
For East, while it is a rivalry game, it means a little more with a chance to get their first win in region play and put themselves in a good spot to make the playoffs moving forward.
“I think it’s probably more important for us so that we can get back to any sort of playoff picture,” Slover said. “More importantly too, we have been close and have done things really well at times but then have done things really bad at times. Friday was a huge turnaround for us even though we lost. I think both sides played really hard for four quarters; we just made some mistakes. We have to continue to grow, it’s a big game for us, and we just have to give ourselves an opportunity by eliminating penalties and turnovers.”
If East wants to come out on top in Friday’s contest, they will need to sure up their run defense. Last week, Campbell County’s C.J. Allen ran for 300 yards and three touchdowns against East. Earlier in the season, Halls ran for 272 yards as a team on the ‘Canes.
Jeff County brings in two running backs capable of putting up those numbers in Omarian Mills and Dallas Williamson. Mills has shined all season and, when he was unavailable last week due to injury, Williamson stepped up in his place, rushing for 170 yards and three touchdowns.
“They’re going to be big and physical up front,” Slover said. “They have good backs that they like to hand it to and pound the rock. They like to play with an h-back to give them a lead blocker. The quarterback can throw it well and have some guys on the outside that our athletic. They cause some challenges for us offensively. We just have to find a response to being consistent and getting off the field on third downs and eliminating touchdowns.”
Offensively for East, they will be looking to pick up where they left off on Friday night. Quarterback Eli Seals threw for 319 yards and four touchdowns in the game, getting the ball out quick to his receivers and letting them go from. The receivers did their part as well, scoring on plays of 81, 76 and 38 yards.
“I think we just made better decisions all the way around,” Slover said. “We still need to be more consistent running the ball, but I think our decision-making across the board was better. I think that is what led us to be better in the pass game. Now we need to get more efficient in the run game to really get us going.”
Kickoff for Friday night’s game is set for 7 p.m. at Jefferson County.