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Trojans host defending champs Friday

By Ken K. Green Defending Class AA state champion Jefferson invades Thunder Alley this week for the quarterfinal round of the GHSA playoffs. The seventh ranked Dragons (10-2) are the number two seed from Region 8-AA and come to town on the heels of a 61-57 win over Region 5-AA champion Heard County. Jefferson is a city public school of 862 students in Jackson County roughly 120 miles northwest of Barnesville off I-85 between Gainesville and Athens. The Dragons have been playing football since 1947 and boast a 411-279-22 overall record, one state championship and six region titles. Jefferson has produced two NFL players, Dennis Law, Cincinnati Bengals (1978) and Fernando Velasco, Tennessee Titans (2009). Besides last week’s win over Heard County, in which they gave up a state record 511 yards rushing to Braves running back Durante Dunson, the Dragons have wins over Commerce (40-0), Jackson County (49-0), Greene County (55-10), Rabun County (26-20), Oglethorpe County (49-0), Social Circle (68-0), Riverside Military (62-23), Union County (49-3) and Westminster (28-0) in the first round of the playoffs. Jefferson’s losses were to North Hall (41-34) and Region 8-AA champion Washington-Wilkes (21-14). Jefferson’s top players include (#16/QB) Evan Shirreffs, (#14/WR) T.J. Skelton, (#30/RB) Tristen Jackson and (#22/RB) Isaiah Blake on offense as they have scored 44 points per game. The Dragon defense, which allows 15 points per game, is led by (#4/DB) Tradd Porter, (#9/LB) Trent Sorrells, (#33/LB) Maverick McKinney and (#28/LB) Cooper Young. The Trojans score 46 point per game while yielding 11. Jefferson is coached by Ben Hall in his first year as head coach after spending the previous four seasons as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach of the Dragons for the legendary Tom ‘˜T’ McFerrin who retired after 34 years as the eighth winningest coach in state history with 317 victories. This will be the first ever meeting between the Trojans and the Dragons. Former Lamar Coach Mark Wilson (1996-2002), now at Bryan County, started his head coaching career at Jefferson (1992-95). The Dragons were 28-13 in his time there.

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