By Nick Nunn

By Nick Nunn staff writer This Friday, Nov. 8, in Jefferson, the Morgan County High School (MCHS) Bulldogs will battle the Jackson County Panthers for the fourth-ranked spot in 8-AAA and a place in the state playoffs. Although the Dogs still have a chance to extend their year through the regular season’s 10 games, Head Football Coach Bill Malone is still somewhat “disappointed about where we are” at this point in the season.

Malone points to quarterback Trent Hawk’s mid-season knee injury and “untimely penalties” as two of the factors that have led to the Bulldogs’ 3-3 record in the region. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Elbert County High School, who is still undefeated in the region, will come out of the final week of the regular season as the first seed in 8-AAA, and the second and third positions will be filled by the winner and the loser, respectively, of the matchup between North Oconee High School and Hart County High School this Friday.

Still, the fourth spot in the region is in Morgan County’s reach. The only obstacle remaining between the Bulldogs and the playoffs, as noted before, is Jackson County, who the Dogs will take on in Jefferson this Friday. Very candidly, Coach Malone admitted that there are other teams in the region that he would rather be facing this week instead of Jackson County, whose offense has been able to put up good numbers against nearly every opponent they have faced this year. “They score against everybody,” said Coach Malone about Jackson County.

“It’s a very sophisticated, well run spread offense.” Malone said that he is “very anxious” about facing what the Panthers do offensively, and recognizes that Morgan County will have to continue putting points on the board against Jackson County in order to be able to keep up. “We understand, this week, the importance of scoring points,” stated Malone. “We aren’t going to practice the punt team very much.” In order to make the most out of every opportunity, Morgan County is going to have to play aggressively against Jackson County. “We’re just going to have to take chances,” said Malone.

“We cannot make mistakes on offense.” This week Malone is preparing the Morgan County defense to deal with the offensive onslaught that Jackson County will be ready to show the Bulldogs. “[Morgan County’s] defense is ready to respond to what can be described as a juggernaut,” said Malone. “Nobody stops them.”

Because of the pressures involved regarding the final game of the season and the potential for a postseason berth, as well as the comparable strength of both teams, Coach Malone expects that this Friday’s game against Jackson County will be a “really exciting game for people to come and watch.”