Defense has been preached by first-year Jackson Christian coach J.D. Byrd during the preseason and early stages of the 2015-16 season.
The emphasis has helped the Eagles become a stronger and more cohesive unit as Jackson Christian is off to a 6-0 start, and the team is four wins away from last year’s win total.
“We work hard and push each other,” Jackson Christian senior Clay Lewis said. “We get down and work of defense, and that is our primary goal going into a game. We get a lot of our offense off of our defense.”
The Eagles are giving up an average of 43.3 points per game, while only giving up over 50 points once this season (54 against Huntingdon).
“I think Coach Byrd has helped us out a lot this year,” Jackson Christian junior Riley Ragan said. “We have started to believe in ourselves, and we are buying into what he is teaching us to do.”
Jackson Christian is a veteran team this year with Lewis and Garrett Hollenback as the key seniors back and Garrett Hopkins, Jeremy Stewart, Logan Riddle, Ragan and Josh Cole as the juniors back.
“Everybody works hard every day,” Lewis said. “We are starting to get an even deeper bench, and everybody can come in and contribute.”
And all of those players can score in double figures on a given night. The Eagles work in their motion offense to find the open shooter, which allows multiple players to score in bunches during any given game.
“I think this team is best on offense when we are moving the ball around,” Ragan said. “We we are all playing together it is easier to get an open shot.”
Jackson Christian has already finished off two season sweeps of Huntingdon and South Gibson, who are teams that reached the region quarterfinals last year.
“I think we are starting to realize our roles,” Ragan said. “It is not about us but about the team.”
The Eagles finished fifth in the district last year and lost in the district quarterfinals last season. But this team has the ability to have a much better finish.
“I feel like we can fight for the district title,” Lewis said. “But we aren’t worried about that right now. We are taking it one game at a time. We want to work in the present and get ready for our next opponent.”
That next opponent is University School of Jackson, which is not only a cross-town rival but also a team that is off to a 6-1 start with the loss coming on a buzzer-beater against Obion County.
“I think we can win this district, but right now we are focused on USJ,” Ragan said. “After the USJ game, we will look at our next opponent.”
Michael Odom, 425-9754
Calling in game score
A few of the phone numbers that were previously used for coaches to call in scores to the sports department are no longer in use. We want to make sure that we get all of the box scores in the paper, so coaches please call any of these numbers to get someone in the sports department to take your score: (731) 425-9754, (731) 425-9751 or (731) 425-9634. Thank you.