Goals still within reach for Gryphons
What does a 308-yard performance look like from the opposing sideline? Thomas Jefferson head coach Jerry Cash attributes Cedric Makey’s big night to three factors.
“Part of it was poor tackling and missed assignments on our part,” he said. “Part of it was my fault because I had them so focused on stopping the quarterback that we didn’t pay enough attention to the fullback. And part of it is, you just have to tip your hat to the kid.”
Injuries also played a key role in the 40-21 loss to Bessemer City.
“We just haven’t been the same team defensively since (safety) Tyler Mitchell was injured in the first quarter of the Rabun Gap game,” Cash said. “Our defense is designed for the safety to come up and stop the run before they get five or six yards. That just hasn’t happened the last few games. We tried Efrim Borders and a few other players in that spot, and they play hard, but they just aren’t safeties.”
The offense is struggling too.
During the last two weeks, both loses, the Gryphons have only averaged 14 points per game, as opposed to 30.5 points per game during the early part of the season.
“We need to improve on offense and that starts with running the ball,” Cash said. “Our backs don’t really have breakaway speed and that is a concern, but we still need to be more consistent running the ball. We also need to go back to our short passes and screen game. We had lots of success with that early in the season and I think that’s something we’ll focus on these last two games.”
Even with the team’s struggles on offense and defense, Cash is quick to point to the positives in the loss.
“Besides the first five or six minutes of the game where we gave up those three scores, we were right there with them,” he said. “Even then, we were only down 32-21 early in the fourth quarter and had just gotten the ball on a turnover. Unfortunately, we gave the ball right back to them with an interception on a deep pass and couldn’t recover. But if we score right there, it’s a whole new ball game.”
That play, which swung the momentum back to the Yellow Jackets, was never intended to go deep.
“I know a lot of teams like to go deep right after a turnover, but it was actually supposed to be a short pass up the seam to Efrim,” Cash said. “But by the time Mason (Martin) had a good handle on the ball, Efrim was already way up field and we had to throw it deep.”
TJCA will look to snap their two-game losing streak as they return home to face Pine Lake Prep Friday night.
“We have to adjust our goals now that the conference is out of reach,” Cash said. “We still have plenty to play for. If we win these next two games, we will finish 8-3 and have the best record in school history. We could get one or two home games in the playoffs, too. That’s something to work for.”