Thanks to a four game winning streak, Chapel Hill clinched the second seed in the 4-AAA region last week and win or lose, cannot lose that position this Friday.
However, no game is meaningless to a coach and the players.
“I have been asked a lot lately if I am going to play my starters and the answer is yes, we are playing to win the game,” said Chapel Hill coach Geoff Pastrick. “We want to be 7-3 and keep the streak going into the playoffs.”
The Panthers (6-3 overall, 5-1 region) will look to make quick work of Jackson (5-4, 3-3), winning, but also using the game as preparation for their upcoming state tournament game.
Chapel Hill will have the advantage of getting their QB Brett Rogers, who has made steady improvement over the season, one more game of experience, and another game for him to create a report with his receivers.
The game will also be a tune-up for running back Tre Mitchell, who will once again pile on to the incredible stats he has already accumulated.
The defense will continue to work on schemes and have one more game to gel. The entire team will have that one more game to work together, learning a little more about the offense and defense that seemed so new to them at the beginning of the season under Pastrick.
Chapel Hill has already come so far under their new coach after the old coach left for a different school last year and the Panthers lost several senior starters to graduation.
After starting the year with a dominating 28-0 win over Osborne, the team struggled in its next two games against Douglas County (46-7 loss), and Carrollton (42-12 loss).
The Panthers rebounded with their first region victory against Rockmart, 23-14 before losing to a powerhouse Callaway team, 35-0. Callaway dominated the region, never losing a game. They have only one loss on the season out of region.
Chapel Hill took the loss in stride and learned from it. The Panthers then rolled off four wins in a row, all against region opponents. They beat Douglass (17-13), BEST Academy (28-7), Haralson County (68-19), and Central-Carroll (41-21). The win against Central last week clinched the home playoff game in round one of state.
The team was led in the winning streak by Mitchell, as well as running back Jamarcus Morrissette, a freshman who had to make an emergency start when Mitchell was injured in a previous game. Both backs average overall 100-yards a game when carrying a full load.
Rogers threw for his first touchdown passes of the season against BEST Academy and has developed into a game manager for Chapel Hill.
The defense has also stepped up, and for the first time this season, the Panthers are averaging more points than they have allowed. The offense is averaging 24.9 points per game and the defense is allowing 21.9.
Jackson enters the contest with nothing else to lose except for the pride of giving one of the top teams in the region a loss. Jackson has struggled on offense all season, scoring an average of 20.1 points per game. Their defense is allowing 19 points per game.
Jackson just missed out on a playoff spot, They will finish fifth in the region. If they win this week, and Central-Carroll loses, they will find their records tied but Central will take the fourth spot because of a 35-0 head-to-head victory.
Jackson will come into the game with an offense the runs around their quarterback, Shadricus Fergurson.
“They give him the ball and run a lot,” Pastrick said. “He can throw as well and and his receivers know how to get open.”
One of Fergurson's primary receivers is Kendrick Caller, who also doubles as a defender, who is a threat at picking off passes and returning them for scores.
The Jackson defense likes to pressure a lot and send multiple blitz packages.
Game time is set for 5:30 p.m.