What started with promise came to a screeching halt last Friday for the J.Z. George football team.
The Jaguars opened the 2019 campaign with wins over McAdams (20-0) and Hamilton (36-20) and was competitive in a 28-15 loss to West Bolivar in their third game. However, J.Z. George would only win more game, a 26-0 homecoming victory over Leake County.
The Jaguars finished up their season with a 50-7 loss to Region 2-2A foe Calhoun City last week, ending with a 3-8 overall mark and an 0-4 record in the district.
"It's disappointing to not be preparing for the playoffs this week. As a head coach, you believe you always have a chance, and I felt like if we could have just gotten in, we stood a good chance in the first round," said sixth-year head coach Ben Burton. "Unfortunately, we had kids make kid mistakes and it cost this team an opportunity to make the playoffs.
"I had two wide receivers in the game last week who had no playing experience because of the guys we lost over the last two weeks. You would like to have some resemblance of a passing game, but we just didn't have the personnel out there who could make a difference."
The Jaguars started last Friday's contest with a bang. On the first drive, J.Z. George moved down the field against the Wildcats, who go into the 2A playoffs wa 7-3 overall record and the top seed from Region 2.
Sophomore tailback Deriaun Townsend broke loose from 40 yards out to give the home team the early lead. Wil'tavious Williams' PAT made it 7-0.
However, Calhoun City scored on its next two possessions for a 16-7 lead after one, and the Wildcats tacked on two more scores in the second frame for a commanding 30-7 advantage at the break. Calhoun scored again in the third early, and that's when the decision was made to let the clock run. They led 38-7 after the third frame.
"We had an opportunity to get into the end zone in the second quarter. We got to their 20 but we took a pretty big loss on second down of about 40 yards. Jordun went back to pass and scrambled for his life. That's a situation where he has to learn to just get rid of the ball," said Burton. "As he matures and gets older, he will be able to make better decisions.
"This whole season has been one of missed opportunities. We have shown improvement the last two years. We were a better team this season than we were last season, and I believe we can be a better team next year. We still have to learn how to compete with the teams in our district. We were a couple of plays away from winning some other games."
Townsend had a banner sophomore campaign. He finished Friday's game with 68 yards on 12 carries. For the season, he had 1,442 yards on 179 carries and 11 touchdowns in the 10 games he played in. He sat out one contest with an ankle injury.
"Deriaun has the strength and right mindset to develop into a great running back. I believe he will work hard in the offseason to get better by strengthening his ankles and working on his moves," Burton said.