Gridiron Preview 2020: Jefferson
The Dragons come back after a sensational quarterfinal run in 2019. There were a great number of departed playmakers, but this season could be just as special…or even moreso.
Head Coach: Gene Cathcart, 4th season
2019 Record: 10-2; State Quarterfinals; Region Champions
Gene Cathcart enters his fourth season heading up the Dragons’ program. If Jefferson can earn double-digit wins, it will be the eighth time in nine years they have done so.
AUG 27 (SCRIMMAGE) – vs Buford
SEP 4 – BYE
SEP 11 – vs Central Gwinnett…… previously @ Westside (SC)
SEP 18 – @ Rabun County…… previously vs Southside (SC)
SEP 25 – vs Mountain View
OCT 2 – @ Hart County
OCT 9 – @ Flowery Branch*
OCT 16 – vs East Hall*
OCT 23 – vs Cedar Shoals*
OCT 30 – BYE
NOV 6 – vs Chestatee*
NOV 13 – @ North Oconee*
NOV 20 – @ Madison County*
*8-AAAA region game ^schedule edited to reflect recent GHSA decision to delay season 2 weeks
Personnel & Schemes
Key Departures: Colby Clark, Kade McNally
Key Returning Players: Malaki Starks, Rem Maxwell, Kam Robinson, Kolton Jones, Jordan Perry, Kadin Bailey, Carter Stephenson, Nick Evans, Dawson Crawley, Colton Steele, Colton Dufresne, Paxton Corkery
The Dragons lose one of their most prolific players in recent history in Colby Clark. Now begins life without Colby. However, there are a handful of next-level D-I players highlighted by the highly-recruited Malaki Starks (who takes over at QB), Kadin Bailey, and Kam Robinson. Plenty of talent to keep the pedal to the metal. For reference, of the 17 All-Region selections for Jefferson last year, 12 are back.
Up & Coming Players: Bowman Horn, Tre Reese, Spencer Neese, Elijah DeWitt, Isaiah Copeland
Offense: 17 different Dragons scored TDs last season. Of those, 14 players who found pay dirt are back this season. Good luck to any defense trying to stop any one guy. Jefferson averaged 40 points per contest last season, and this year could see about the same. The style we’ll see is the triple option double slot. Malaki Starks will be the starting QB, 14 guys will run the ball who scored rushing TDs last year, and no one go-to at receiver.
Defense: The defensive style is a multiple odd and even front. The strength of the defense is its depth. Starks is a key on that side of the ball, and is a legit D-I player. The Dragons were stingy with 10.8 pts/game allowed last season. This year has many of those fellas back to perhaps be even more stingy.
Strengths & Areas of Focus
Strengths: Depth and skill. There are far too many playmakers to be able to maintain just a few of them. One area the Dragons excel in also is discipline. The turnover differential was plus-15 last season, with 20 takeaways and only 5 turnovers. As the old saying goes, if you take care of the football, the football will take care of you. To sum up the strengths, Cathcart says, “team leadership and chemistry, and the return of so many players with quality playing experience the past two years.”
Focusing On: This is a tough one…there’s not a glaring hole here except maybe who will run the offense under center. Losing Colby Clark is huge, but the talent level is so high that it’s something that someone will embrace to be that next man up. Most teams would expect perhaps some small growing pains at that position…but Jefferson is not most teams, and Jefferson has an All-State athlete Starks taking over there. Cathcart also points to the depth on both lines of scrimmage as an area of focus. This is the biggest area of concern.