By CHARLIE CHITWOOD
When it comes to playing tackle football, there are a number of checkpoints along a season’s path – first game, first district game, first playoff game and the like. But for each young man padded up in a Bulldog uniform, finally getting to hit someone besides another teammate is pretty big early on. Waskom’s Wildcats were a more than willing opponent in a scrimmage last week that left both coaching staffs with some good stuff to work from.
First off, Jefferson fans can relax in the knowledge that DI prospect T.Q. Jackson has not forgotten how to catch a football. Also feel good about the Dawgs’ depth at wide receiver and running back. Jefferson’s defense “didn’t finish” the live-game portion of the scrimmage and allow a Waskom TD in the quarter’s final seconds, but Antwain Jimmerson and Company had far more to be happy about than sad.
If there was anything that Jefferson remained envious of upon departure, it was the pair of recent state championships owned by the Wildcats. The Dawgs senior class especially thinks the talent is here to bring a second title to town. The skillies are in good hands. The development of the grinders will be as much the focus of the staff as they get ready for the season opener next Thursday against Pittsburg.
You always hear about winning the war in the trenches. You can be tired of hearing it but it’s nonetheless true. Jefferson’s – anybody’s – offensive attack depends upon protection up front. Defensively, you want to get some push up front too. Jefferson’s blend of veterans and youth on the offensive and defensive lines will tell quite a tale.
Antwain Jimmerson has a dozen lineman on the varsity squad right now, all in the hands of new line coach Stephen Barnes. Barnes’ last stop was in Hughes Springs, where the Mustangs always expected to run, run and run – and often did. Cullen Mosley, Gavin Holliday, Justin Davis, Dylan Polver, Dillon Griffin and Edward Waites have the senior leadership on the line ahead of five juniors and even a sophomore. The names and numbers can always change.
While Waskom came into last week’s scrimmage ranked fifth in Texas Football’s Preseason Class 3A-D-II poll, Jefferson won’t step down much in the level of competition when they line up against host Elysian Fields and fellow visitor West Rusk later today. E.F. will be salty as always, but West Rusk’s Raiders come in ranked four spots higher (16th) than Jefferson in the Class 3A-DI Preseason Poll. If you saw any of the spring track meets, you saw plenty of guys from all three squads.
Antwain Jimmerson thinks he’ll have the depth chart pretty well set by the end of tonight’s [Thursday night’s] scrimmage. You can always move up or down over the course of a year – especially with the younger players – but the focus becomes on who can take you to the dance. There’s plenty of partners to choose from – let the games begin.
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