HomeSportsBragging rights, perfect records on line in Bruins-Eagles matchup

Bragging rights, perfect records on line in Bruins-Eagles matchup

The football teams at Jackson Christian and University School of Jackson are in similar situations entering their matchup on Friday at JC’s Ronnie Fowler Stadium.

They’re both 3-0. They’ve both had to come from behind in the second half once to maintain their perfect record.

With the exception of Jackson Christian’s dominant win in Week 2, all of their games have been competitive in the fourth quarter.

But while the teams are having similar seasons, the programs are working through this season from very different situations.

Jackson Christian’s undefeated record was expected by some in the preseason.

The Eagles returned a good amount of talent from last year’s Division II-A semifinalist team including four-star recruit Jay’Len Mosley (who picked up his 14th NCAA FBS scholarship offer from Kentucky this past weekend) and tight end Daniel Green who has at least eight scholarship offers.

The program is enjoying the consistency of having had Darby Palmer as head coach since 2017 with his coaching staff intact for most of that time with the occasional change, and the program has seen a steady rise in yearly success as it’s gone from a team that lost four times that season with a running clock to being favored to win the region this year.

On the other sideline is USJ, who entered the season with a new head coach, Derrick Pritchard, plus the uncertainty of having lost most of its starters on both sides of the ball and moving up to Division II-AA this year – making this game no longer one that counts in region standings.

But neither coach is allowing their team to think about anything but the task at hand during any given week. But just like they’re having similar seasons coming from different preseason perspectives, both coaches have similar philosophies for different reasons.

“This team is too young for us to be thinking about anything besides [last week’s opponent Trinity Christian Academy] until the game is over against them,” said USJ’s Pritchard after the Bruins had defeated the Lions. “We’ll focus all [this week] on USJ because that’s the opponent next week and then think about the opponent after that that week.”

Palmer explained why he’s got a similar mandate for the Eagles.

“We can’t get caught up in looking ahead to anyone besides who we have next,” Palmer said during a phone interview on the ride home from JC’s dramatic win at Goodpasture last Friday. “I can say we’ve thought about USJ now and they’ve been mentioned because they’re now next, but no one in our locker room has brought it up while we were preparing for Goodpasture.”

The rivalry is different this year.

It’s no longer a region game with USJ’s move up. And this game will actually be Jackson Christian’s third game against a AA team as the Eagles have already played Northpoint and Goodpasture.

But since Palmer was a part of this game a year ago, he said the preparation will be no different.

“I’m looking forward to playing them,” Palmer said. “They’re doing a good job winning games and overcoming everything they’ve been able to so far.

“Preparing for a game doesn’t change whether it’s a region game or not. Each team brings its own unique challenges, and we’ll try to be prepared for them.”

Brandon Shields,

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