It's crunch time for the J.Z. George football team.
Even though the state playoffs don't start until Nov. 8, the Jaguars' playoff hopes could very well hinge on the outcome of Friday's home contest against Eupora High School.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. in North Carrollton at Farris Jenkins Field.
J.Z. George dropped its first league game last week, losing 41-6 on Oct. 10 at East Webster. The Jaguars and Bruce, which lost 5-2 to Eupora two weeks ago, are both 0-1 in district play. Eupora was beaten 36-0 by Calhoun City last Friday.
Calhoun City leads the district with a 2-0 mark, while East Webster and Eupora are both 1-1. East Webster has an open date this week and plays at Eupora on Oct. 25 and entertains Bruce on Nov. 1.
The Jaguars will go to Bruce on Oct. 25 and host Calhoun City on Nov. 1.
But first things first, the Jaguars are in need of a win Friday night. The Eagles come in with an overall mark of 2-6, while J.Z. George is 3-5. The Jags have gone 1-5 the last six weeks.
"Eupora still has a good team regardless of their record. They are young in spots, and they haven't scored a lot of points this season, but they are not a team we can overlook. I feel like we match up well with them. They do some things offensively that we will have to be sharp on defense. They are a young team, but one that is getting better," said J.Z. George head coach Ben Burton.
In last Thursday's contest against East Webster, the Wolverines held a 7-0 lead after the first period and outscored the Jags 13-6 in the second quarter for a 20-6 advantage at the half. A 21-0 outburst in the third frame put the game away.
"When you play a team as good as East Webster, you have to be at your very best, and we didn't play well. We made a lot of mistakes on both sides of the ball. We had some opportunities to score, and once again, we failed to get into the end zone. We also lined up wrong a few times on defense and they were able to break loose for big gains," Burton added. "We just didn't perform the way we needed too against a team like East Webster. In previous games against lesser competition, you can get away with some of the mistakes we had, but against a team like East Webster, you just can't do that."
The Jaguars did some things on offense that Burton was glad to see. Sophomore quarterback Jordun Normal was 14 of 22 for 183 yards with one touchdown and an interception. He and sophomore receiver D'Anthony McGlothan hooked up for a 35-yard score in the second period.
"I've been saying all along that Jordun is going to be a good quarterback He has the tools to play this position," Burton said. "He is getting better at reading defenses and managing the game. We went to a spread formation in the second half, and Jordun did a good job of throwing the ball. It definitely helps us on offense when defenses are keying on our ground game."
McGlothan finished with 116 yards receiving on four receptions. He also had nine total tackles from his free safety position on defense.
Sophomore tailback Deriaun Townsend returned from a left ankle sprain he sustained two weeks ago against Leake County. He finished with 76 yards on 15 carries, but after he tweaked the ankle again late in the first half, he was a non-factor in the second half. He did have two catches for six yards.
"If Deriaun is able to go, he will play Friday night. We're going to continue to be cautious with him in practice," said the Jaguar head coach.
With his 76-yard performance against East Webster, Townsend eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. He has 1,047 yards on 118 carries and seven rushing touchdowns.
Normal tacked on 49 yards rushing on seven carries last week. Malik Branch had four receptions for 45 yards, and Jacob Johnson had two grabs for 16 yards and six carries for 26 yards.
Thomas Perry and Keyshawn Daniels had four tackles each. Wil'tavious Williams had three tackles, a sack and forced a fumble.