The Jordan Red Jackets have shown improvement in head coach Justin Newman’s second year, but despite those strides the team is 1-4. The Red Jackets hope to notch a win to begin region play, but the challenge of topping the 3-2 Spencer Greenwave will be easier said than done.
Jordan and Spencer start the Region 5-2A portions of their schedules at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Kinnett Stadium. The matchup is one that promises electric play from both sides and could have playoff implications down the line.
Although both teams have yet to face a region opponent, there’s no doubt they come in battled tested. The two faced several talented non-region teams; Jordan’s first five opponents boast a combined 20-8 record, while Spencer’s sit at 13-16.
“The schedule definitely hasn’t been easy, and hopefully it got us prepared to play teams like Spencer,” Newman said. “They’re very, very good up front defensively, a lot like the Upson-Lee and Manchester teams we played. They’re good, and hopefully it helped get us prepared and showed our guys we could compete.”
The Jordan offense starts and stops with junior quarterback Emmanuel Mann, who has burnt defenses through the air and on the ground all season. There’s also wide receivers Junior Hill and Cameron Green, who have displayed playmaking ability for the Red Jackets time and again. New center Austin Bedsole may be the most important factor going forward, as his move has made the team’s snapping issues a thing of the past.
As big as the offense has been, Newman said it’s the defense’s strides that have kept the Red Jackets in contention. Players such as Hill, Marqui McCullum, Quentin Duke and Victor Thomas have the defense playing like one unit rather than 11 individuals.
The circumstances are similar for the Greenwave. Quarterback Dy’Javius Nathan has been instrumental for an offense averaging just over 20 points per game, and he has been aided by playmakers Cory Calhoun, Raekwon Jackson and Karlton Williams. The defensive charge is led by Davonte Webster and Bryce Webster, a duo that has plagued opponents throughout the season.
The key to Friday’s game will likely be the turnover battle. Jordan’s revamped defense has done a standout job of getting takeaways, having forced 13 turnovers — seven interceptions and six fumbles — through five games. It’s a dangerous matchup for the Greenwave, which was hampered by turnovers in losses to Northside and Crisp County.
Friday’s game will be quite the coaching showdown between Newman and Spencer head coach Pierre Coffey, who spent time together as assistants at Carver. Ultimately, Coffey knows what must happen for Spencer to improve to 4-2.
“I just need to see a complete performance,” Coffey said. “I need to see us play mistake free and solid in all facets of the game. We have to carry that into region play. If we’re going to be one of the teams to contend, we have to play complete games.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports
Below is this week’s Game of the Week options. Go to the online version of the story and vote. Voting ends at 12 p.m. EST Tuesday.
Brookstone (5-1, 3-0) at Manchester (6-0, 3-0)
Location: Manchester, Ga.
Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
Cairo (3-3, 2-1) at Carver (2-4, 2-1)
Location: A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium, Columbus, Ga.
Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
Jeff Davis (4-2, 2-0) at Central (5-0, 2-0)
Location: Garrett-Harrison Stadium, Phenix City, Ala.
Time: 8 p.m. EST