Even with the Warriors dropping down to Class AA through reclassification, they remain steadfast in scheduling some of the best possible teams before region play.
That stretch — Thomson, Burke County, Washington-Wilkes and then Glenn Hills — means Jefferson County will face a mix of talented teams and larger schools as tests before Region 3-AA begins.
The Warriors also bring back nine starters on offense and key stars on defense in the quest for the 10th winning season in the past 11 years.
On defense, last year’s impressive secondary is gone, with LaDerrick Hammond off to Marshall as one of the signings. But the linebackers will be strong this season, especially since seniors Jerry Lattimore and Daylan Williams are ready to deliver big hits and compile tackles.
Williams should be one of the area’s leading tacklers again this season.
“We hope those two will fly around and make plays for us,” Jefferson County coach J.B. Arnold said, adding that Williams is, “Obviously the heart and soul of our defense. If he goes, we go.”
Though many starters are back for the Warriors’ offense, running back Car’Tabius Quarterman isn’t one of the returners. In one game last season, Quarterman rushed for 229 yards and also returned a kickoff for a touchdown in a 28-14 win against Baldwin.
Arnold said Jefferson County will go with a committee to churn out rushing yards this season.
In 2013, the Warriors used a strong defense to go 8-4 and reach the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs. To have a similar performance this year, Jefferson County must survive the tough early gauntlet and ride a wave in region play.
“If we’re consistent and can endure the grind, I think we’ll be successful,” Arnold said.