Drive For the GHSA State Title: Jefferson at Oconee County

Friday Night Matchup between Jefferson Dragons and Oconee County kickoffs at 8 pm on Peachtree TV. Both teams come into this game at 2-1. Jefferson won their last game 23-0 against St.Pius Catholic. Oconee County defeated Putnam County 20-0 last game.

The head coaches have spent time at both programs. Jefferson Coach Travis Noland was at Oconee County before taking the head coaching gig at Jefferson. Oconee County coach Ben Hall started his career at Jefferson. They shed light on the similarities between the programs and how they felt.

“I am sure I will feel emotion when I get to the stadium on Friday. There are a lot of people there I love and care for deeply,” said Noland. “I spent 8 years of my life there. All my sons graduated from high school there. The game is really not about me. It’s about the two teams playing football and they have a really good team and they are very well coached. It will be a huge challenge for us.”

“Jefferson is a great place to coach and a great place to work. The communities  are very similar and the type of kids you coach,” said hall. “The community is very supportive in both places. The kids play hard. It’s 30 miles apart. It’s kind of like looking in the mirror when you watch them on film.”

Jefferson’s offense has been clicking on all cylinders. The Dragons are averaging 42 points a game this season. Five Star running back Sammy Brown leads them with 486 yards rushing and eight tds. Elijah Dewitt leads Jefferson in receiving with 294 yards and 8 touchdowns. Coach Noland talked about the challenge the Oconee defense could present.

“Oconee is by far the best defensive team we have played. We know that our sledding is going to get much tougher as we get into this game,” said Noland. “They have seven kids on that defense that have played a lot and most of them started in our championship game two years ago.”

On defense for Oconee County they will be led by the heart and soul of their team. A position group who could be valuable in slowing down the high octane offense for Jefferson. It’s their front seven.

“We are led by four senior linebackers that are really the leaders on the team. They are just physical and sound,” said Hall. “They use great technique. They are the heart and soul of our entire team, especially the defense. Everyone on our team kind of just rallies around that unit.”

Whit Weeks and Samson Stearns led the defense in total tackles for Oconee County.

Coach Hall talked about the keys to the game and how either team would come out with a victory. These two factors are crucial.

“I think both teams are very similar,” said Hall. “The team that avoids turnovers and wins the kicking game is going to come out on top.”

For Jefferson, they are still building and finding out about themselves, and seeing where the season can take them this year.

“We are just hoping we can keep it close and give ourselves a chance to win the game.

We have the same long term goal every year and that’s to reach your full potential,” said Noland. “We are still trying to find out who we are as a football team and take strides each week and see where we are in Weeks 8,9,10 because that is usually the determining factor of playoff seeds. Hopefully, we can continue to improve each week and give ourselves a chance to get in the playoffs at the end of the season.”

Jefferson is 12-10 all-time against Oconee County. Last time these two teams played Oconee County won the matchup 21-20 in 2019.


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