Jones County football all about ‘winning the day’ this season
The first two weeks of high school football in Middle Georgia have provided plenty of excitement, but Week 3 offers up some big games.
The Telegraph has selected three feature match-ups to watch.
Here are the details and our staff picks:
Jones County vs. Northside
7:30 p.m. Friday at Jones County
Story of the game: This will be one of the most evenly matched games on paper all season long.
Northside comes into the game following a loss to a fellow powerhouse in Peach County. The Eagles played a poor first half but were able to wear down the Trojan defense in the second half in a comeback effort that fell just short on a costly interception late.
The Mike Chastain era at Jones County has gotten off to a hot start after knocking off Howard in Week 1, when the Greyhounds shut out the Baldwin Braves. The offense has looked good — a trademark of a Chastain led team — but the defense has been exceptional, giving up just 10 points through two games.
Keys to the game for Jones County: The Greyhounds have a dynamic duo at the wide receiver position in Maleek Wooten and Jontavis Robertson. In this game a year ago, Robertson went for over 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Wooten had the game-sealing touchdown in the fourth quarter to beat the Eagles 35-27. The Greyhounds should look to feed these two early and often.
The Eagles did a good job against Peach County of never letting Jaydon Gibson get in a rhythm with his wide receivers. Jones County’s Hunter Costlow doesn’t attack down the field as much as Gibson.
Costlow is more comfortable throwing the short routes and picking apart the defense in a more methodical way. He will need to make the right decision in this game and not allow the Northside defensive backs to take away his biggest weapons.
Keys to the game for Northside: Mason Ford has had moments over the last two games where he has looked exceptional and others where he has struggled. The biggest thing for Ford is cutting down on the mistakes in the passing game.
He threw a pair of interceptions against Peach County, one that was returned for a touchdown and ended up being the difference in the game. Ford doesn’t have to throw it often to be effective in Northside’s run-first offense, but he does need to be efficient when he does throw.
In order for the Eagles to fully take advantage of Ford’s ability as a runner, they can’t allow themselves to get down early and be forced into passing the ball more.
Staff pick: Jones County
Westside vs. Perry
7:00 p.m. Thursday at Westside
Story of the game: These two teams come in with identical 1-1 records. The Perry Panthers struggled to find their offense against Houston County in the season opener but rebounded with a strong performance against Northeast. Westside grabbed an opening win over rival Southwest but faltered in an offensive showdown with Harris County.
Keys to the game for Westside: The Seminoles have the offense to hang with anyone. Through the first two games, they have already scored 71 points. The Houston County game should provide a blueprint for how to stop Perry.
The Bears attacked the offensive line all night and applied pressure to the quarterback Lane Rucker after its offense got up on Perry early. The key will be getting off to a good start on offense and let the defense put Rucker and the Perry offense on the ropes early.
If the defense can hold up its end of the bargain this week, then the offense should be able to take over this game and cruise to victory.
Keys to the game for Perry: It might be a fool’s errand to try and stop this Westside offense. The Panther’s best bet is to keep the ball away from the Seminoles’ offense.
Against Northeast, the Panthers used running back Makeil Kendrick to possess the ball as much as people. He had 220 yards on 22 carries for three touchdowns.
Kendrick will be a key in the game as he will need to carry a similar workload in order to maintain possession as long as possible. If the Panthers can control the pace of this game then they have the ability to grind out a win.
Staff pick: Westside
Houston County vs. Rutland
7:30 p.m. Friday at Houston County (McConnell-Talbert Stadium)
Story of the game: The Rutland Hurricanes lost 23 straights games leading up to new head coach Rusty Easom’s debut against Hawkinsville. It didn’t take long for him to notch a victory and end the losing streak. The path to putting together a winning streak goes through a tough opponent in a revitalized Houston County team.
The Bears have looked impressive behind senior quarterback Max Rigby as he has led them to a 2-0 start. The Bears won only two games last season, one being against the Hurricanes.
Keys to the game for Rutland: The Hurricanes are coming off of a massive moment for this program. The win should give this team a sense of pride, confidence and swagger that it hasn’t had in a long time.
Against Houston County, this team will be playing with house money as there is no pressure on them at all. They got the first one out of the way and no longer have that cloud of doubt hanging over them.
This is a team that should play with some extreme confidence in hopes of pulling off a massive upset over a team that looks to finally have rebuilt itself under Ryan Crawford in Houston County.
Keys to the game for Houston County: Senior Max Rigby is turning into quite the quarterback. He has started since he was a sophomore but has struggled with his ability to get the ball down the field and with turning it over.
In the first two games this year, Rigby already has 500 yards passing, four touchdowns and no interceptions. If he continues to play at this level then the sky is the limit for this team.
Rigby should be able to use his experience to pick apart this young Rutland defense for the Bears’ third win of the season.
Staff pick: Houston County