J.Z. George High School won’t be going into the Class 2A playoffs the way it wanted to, but head coach Rusty Smith said it will be up to his players how they do in the Jaguars’ first-round playoff game.

“Depending on what team for us actually shows up will determine the outcome,” said Smith, who will lead the Jaguars to take on the Dragons of Pisgah High School in the opening round.

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Friday in Sandhill.

“We played them in the past while I was at Charleston,” Smith said. “They are a well-coached team, and they play extremely hard. They’ve got a bunch of seniors who I expect want to win this game and keep their season going.

“That’s what I’m hoping our kids feel. I hope they want to keep playing. We’ve got some seniors who aren’t ready for the season to end, and I believe a good many of the younger kids want to keep playing. We can’t come out slow and expect to stay with Pisgah. The mistakes we had last week against Calhoun City, we can’t have this week.”

The Jaguars (5-4) finished as the third seed from Region 2 with their 34-0 loss to Calhoun City a week ago. The Wildcats took first place in the district and will play host to Riverside in a first-round game Friday. Eupora took second with J.Z. George’s loss and plays host to Madison St. Joseph Friday. East Webster, which finished fourth in the region, plays at Pelahatchie Friday.

Pisgah comes in as the No. 2 seed from Region 4. The Dragons (5-4) have won three of their last four games and outscored their opponents 299-271 on the season. Pisgah beat Ethel High School 54-34 last week.

“On film, they have a couple of good looking athletes and some good skill players,” Smith said. “They don’t do a lot to try and trick you. They are going to run the power and counter a good bit. Our job is to line up and stop them.

“We’re pretty banged up right now. We had three linemen with injuries last week. Our center stayed in the game as long as he could. We just held a walk through Monday, and we’re not doing a lot of hitting this week. If you don’t know how to tackle by now, then you’re probably not going to learn in a few days.”

Smith is hopeful his players understand the importance of being in the playoffs.

“This group has never played in a playoff game. The seniors were still in junior high the last time J.Z. George made the playoffs,” the first-year coach said. “They needed to get this taste in their mouth. I’ve been to the playoffs as a player and coach, and it’s a different feel. If you win, you get to keep playing. If you lose, it’s over. That’s the reason I hope the seniors we have take it serious and let it be known they aren’t ready for this thing to end.”

The Jaguars’ offense was held in check last week by Calhoun City. Junior quarterback Jordun Normal was held to 88 yards passing on 7-of-13 completions with one interception. He also only had 19 yards rushing on nine carries. On defense, he had two tackles and an interception.

Junior receiver/running back D’Anthony McGlothan, who also plays quarterback in the Wildcat formation, only had 14 yards on three carries. He had 22 yards receiving on two catches. McGlothan had seven solos and four assists on defense.

Senior fullback Wil’Tavious Williams was held to four yards rushing on 10 carries. He did lead the defense from his middle linebacker spot with six solo tackles and six assists.

Contact Calvin Stevens at 581-7234 or cstevens@gwcommonwealth.com.

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