Cougars open again with Millbrook
SHENANDOAH JUNCTION — “Change” could be the most important word in the language when Jefferson opens its 2019 high school football season at home tonight, against usual rival Millbrook from nearby Winchester.
If there are no changes in how the game is played or the tempo of play, then Millbrook will win, the same as it has in recent years when the teams met.
Millbrook won in 2018 when Jefferson waded through its losses to a 2-8 record.
Millbrook won in 2017 when Jefferson could not find any wins in 10 games.
Have the Cougars made enough changes since last year’s loss to reverse their misfortunes when seeing the Pioneers?
Last season’s game was close. Jefferson scored points and actually had a real chance to win. But Millbrook figured out ways to keep the Cougars from winning.
Will the Cougars do well with their special teams? Jefferson kickoffs, punts, kickoff coverage, punt coverage, snaps to punters and extra points have been mostly ineffective for years now. To beat Millbrook, there has to be improvement with special teams.
Can Jefferson run the football for the yardage necessary to keep the Millbrook pass rush from chasing Corbin Pierson into submission?
Will the Jefferson defensive secondary be able to contain the Pioneer short passing game? It hasn’t in the past two seasons.
Jefferson’s most useful players are Antoine Lewis, Ahmad Lesesne, Sean Corum, Francis Diaz, Corey Shaffer and Pierson.
All of them have some experience, especially Corbin, who is a going to be a three-year starter at quarterback.
All of them need to be “playmakers” and contribute in all four quarters, if the Cougars are to beat Millbrook.
Millbrook finished the 2018 regular season with a 7-3 record and went into the Virginia state playoffs, where it lost in a first-round game to Kettle Run, which beat Millbrook in the regular season.
Season openers can bring on penalties, too many turnovers and botched plays — for both teams.
But this year, Jefferson has to minimize its special team’s mistakes and keep Millbrook from making its offense one-dimensional, by doing things on the ground. Millbrook will do some effective scoring. Can Jefferson score more?