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Cougars back after another playoff spot

By Staff | Aug 26, 2016

After a high-quality 8-2 regular season record and a playoff berth to complete the 2015 season, Jefferson will be looking for another postseason spot again.

Last year started with a win against Millbrook and ended with a Class AAA playoff loss at home to South Charleston.

This season begins on the road against Millbrook, a team that shrugged off its loss to the Cougars to finish with a 7-3 regular season record and then had a 65-18 win over Liberty Christian and a 35-21 loss to Jefferson Forest in one area of the Virginia Class 4A playoffs.

Josh Haymore is in his fourth year as the Pioneer head coach and the 2015 season was by far his best.

At Jefferson, the Cougars will rely heavily on offensive forces Isaac Meyers, Jimmy King, Scooter Gaskins and Jeremy Beach.

Coach Craig Hunter also has linemen Kato Oliver and sophomores Jevon Lang and Nick Longerbeam to help guide the Cougars through the early season without 2015 stalwarts Christian Johnson, Delonte Berry and Marcus Burns.

Jefferson’s schedule is an exact replica of last year’s. All 10 of the opponents are the same. The home and away games are reversed from 2015 meaning that five of Jefferson’s first six games will be on the road.

After seeing Millbrook tonight, there will be an open date on September 2 and then Musselman visits Shenandoah Junction on Sept. 9.

Four consecutive road games — at Hedgesville, at Sherando, at Handley and at Spring Mills — come in order following the Musselman game at home.

The last four games of the regular season against Fairmont Senior, Martinsburg, South Hagerstown and Washington are all in Shenandoah Junction.

There will be only 29 schools vying for this year’s big-school playoff berths, but 16 of them will reach the post-season.

In the 2015 finale, South Charleston had only a 7-2 lead at halftime but then the Black Eagles outscored the Cougars, 21-6, in the second half to salt away a 28-8 win.

Myers is dual threat quarterback, adept with both his legs and his throwing arm. King, a two-way starter like a significant number of others, will probably be Myers’ favorite target in the first few games.

Gaskins will also catch many of the Myers’ throws in the early going.

How will Jefferson’s special teams fare? That’s a question waiting to be answered by statements coming from Millbrook, Musselman and Sherando.

Millbrook will be trying to build on last year’s regular season success. The Pioneers return both offensive and defensive experience, but not enough to make postseason plans a certainty.

By the point in the season where Jefferson finally gets a second home game, many of the decisions about personnel and game plans will be etched in stone.