Regardless Of Outcome, Dragons ‘Chasing Perfection’ In 2021 [VIDEO]

Jefferson finished an amazing 2020 season with a sparkling 14-1 record, region title, #1 state ranking, and of course, a State Runner-Up trophy. While the pieces that graduated were huge, the ones coming back are legacy players for the program. So yes, the expectations are sky high…but it doesn’t have to end in a championship to be successful.

“If you sit there and say ‘it’s there ring, or a disappointment’ then there’s only one team in our classification will be able to say they had a successful year,” says coach Gene Cathcart, who sports 80 wins in the state of Georgia and 147 overall. “I hope the goal for this team is to play up to the level of our capabilities. If that happens, I think we can all sleep well at night. We’re not going to put out heads in the sand like an ostrich and pretend we shouldn’t be really good…there’s no point and shying away from those expectations. But you also don’t want to compete against those expectations…you want to compete against Rabun, Flowery Branch, and those other playoff teams. We just try to take it one day at a time.”

To his point, regardless of the outcome, if this team plays within itself and doesn’t rest on its success, this will be a successful season. In fact, the team does well at blocking out the outside chatter and keeping focused.

The Dragons will feature an amazing backfield trio of Malaki Starks, the 5-star UGA commit who is currently ranked as the #2 overall recruit in the country, Jordan Perry, and Sammy Brown. Perry is garnering a handful of Power Five offers, while Brown is already as a sophomore grabbing the attention of the top college programs in the nation.

“It’s everything,” says Starks on his and the team’s passion that stems from making the title game last season. “We were doubted last year a lot with the talent that we had. We lost a lot on defense but we have a lot of people coming back this year and we have a lot of people stepping up. I feel like we can go do it again and win it.”

The defense perhaps lost the most in regards to talent and impact, but the aforementioned trio along with D-I prospect Kadin Bailey will more than make up for that.

“I don’t think it’s going to be that much [pressure] to feel,” says Bailey on handling the pressure of anchoring the defense. “We did lose a lot of dudes, but I think we’re filling them with pretty good players. The only bad thing is inexperience, but I think once they get going it will be fine.”

Back to the offense, the secret to solving the problem of sharing one ball with 3 D-I prospects lies on the individuals on the field.

“They’ve got to marry up to the unselfishness of the style of the offense,” says Cathcart. “If we’re worried about the quantity of touches, they’re probably in the wrong place. So we tell them repeatedly that if you do something with the [ball], if it’s a quality touch, we’ll keep feeding the hot hand. You have these threats, and sometimes those guys can make an impact on the game without having the ball in their hands.”

While Brown is a standout on offense, he’s been putting in even more work on the other side of the ball.

“I’ve just really tried to work on my defense in general, because that’s where I’m getting recruited as,” says Brown. “I haven’t really try to let it get to my head, but it’s kind of there. You have to be able to go out there and perform.”

All to say, this team will undoubtedly put more pressure on themselves than any on the outside. However, they won’t get caught up in the hype.

“We usually don’t get caught up in it,” says Perry. “We all usually do our own thing, come out here and play. We usually just go out there and work. We got coach Cathcart out there preaching to us ‘everybody’s got a target on our back, we gotta keep it going, keep it moving, don’t get caught up in it.'”

“We’ll never play perfect, no matter how talented we are, and we know that, so what we want to do is chase perfection, like Vince Lombardi says,” adds Cathcart. “If we do that, and give the great effort these kids give…then we hope we’re in that position at the end of the year.”

The Dragons open the season in Week 1 with a huge showdown against #1-ranked Rabun County, as Starks goes up against his friend and fellow UGA 5-star commit Gunner Stockton.

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