The Dragons are coming off a fantastic 2016 campaign in which they advanced to the state semifinals, coming one win shy of getting to the championship game in the Georgia Dome.
Yet somehow, this year they are hungrier than ever to get past all opponents, including the only team to beat them last year, Thomson. Thomson bested Jefferson in a top-10 ranked matchup in the regular season, and won 42-20 at Jefferson Memorial Stadium. Fast forward a couple of months, and Jefferson was set to square off again with them in the State Semifinals at home. Jefferson finished 12-2 overall.
However, due to GHSA rules and regulations, Jefferson’s stadium didn’t hold the required capacity crowd for a semifinal game, so they were forced to play at Thomson. They narrowly lost 27-6, although the score is misleading as with two minutes to play, Jefferson was going for an onside kick to try and tie the game up with another score. Thomson scored after recovering the kick, and added a pick-six defensive touchdown on a desperation attempt in the final seconds.
The Dragons return Division-I prospect Colby Wood at running back, where the senior has the chance to eclipse 6,000 career rushing yards barring injury this season. He was a 2,000-yard rusher as a sophomore, scoring 32 TDs, good enough to be named Class 4A Player of the Year. He had over 1,600 yards last season on around 100 fewer carries, but still had over 25 scores.
Sophomore QB Colby Clark and senior Bryce Moore will share signal-calling duties, as Clark emerged midway through last season as a legit dual threat option. Moore and Clark, as well as Wood, will also be a large part of the defense that lost its top five tacklers, including six of their top seven. Gone is D-I player Dontae Wilson, who was an excellent pass rusher and had a knack for getting to the quarterback.
First year head coach Gene Cathcart, who has been the Offensive Coordinator the past two seasons, will go back to head coaching duties after the departure of Ben Hall to Flowery Branch. Cathcart coached at Habersham Central from 2003-08 before heading to South Carolina, where his teams went to three state title games and won once. He feels like on paper, the Dragons are a championship caliber team, but will have to prove it this season with their depth issues.
According to Cathcart, the great players have to play great, but it’ll be the good players who play above expectations and do the little things right that make the difference. Check out the full BLITZ interview with Dragons coach Gene Cathcart.