Jackets set to face Raiders in first round
By virtue of winning the Region 5-AAAA title, the North Augusta High School football team earned the right to be the No. 3 seed in the Class AAAA, Division II bracket.
The only teams seeded higher than the Jackets are the undefeated No. 1 seeded Goose Creek Gators and No. 2 seeded Northwestern Trojans.
In the first round, the Jackets have drawn Laurens High School. The Raiders are owners of a 6-5 (5-2 Region 1-AAAA) record as the No. 14 seed, but the record is a bit deceiving. Laurens is led by a stout defense that has only allowed more than 28 points twice all year. The team forced six turnovers against JL Mann in a 43-14 win two weeks ago. Of the team’s 43 points, 30 of them came off turnovers. Against Greenwood last week the defense held strong despite a 13-10 loss.
The offense is under the watchful eye of Jay Brannon, who was hired in the offseason to be the offensive coordinator. The team has three quarterbacks that have seen playing time, with sophomore Toby Jackson being the most recent leader. However, he exited the game against Greenwood and gave way to Quinn Suber – a player he had been in competition with for the job in the preseason. Against Greenwood, Suber completed only 2-of-4 passes, but rushed 33 times for 124 yards and a touchdown. Grayson Bailes has also seen playing time at the position throughout the year.
On the flip side, Jackson led the team in carries two weeks ago against JL Mann with 13 for 67 yards and a touchdown.
As such, there’s no guarantee what offense will show up to the Jackets Nest on Friday night. Given the Raiders’ injury woes and the fact that so many players have seen time throughout the year, it’s likely that a quick hook may be in store. If the Raiders stall early on they may go with someone else in the backfield.
However, the opportunistic defense will be a difficult test for the Jackets. That said, given the explosiveness on the Jackets offense, it will be a difficult matchup for the Raiders.
With the North Augusta pass rush, including Brandon Maddox, Sebastian Hernandez, Ronald Williams, Brandon Thomas and Kyle Saverance, among others, clicking at the right time, the defense could wreak havoc. This is a defense that held the potent Dutch Fork offense scoreless in the second half, and their opponents’ best output was against the JL Mann Patriots – who were winless on the year.
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at the North Augusta Star.