From Athens to Atlanta, Jags take on Panthers in playoffs

After last week’s impressive 59-0 triumph over region foe Walnut Grove, the Cedar Shoals Jaguars (7-3) garnered a 3-seed in the first round of the 5-A GHSA playoffs. They’re set to the Carver-Atlanta Panthers (7-3) at Lakewood Stadium tonight at 7:30. 

“We know they’re going to make some plays, so we just have to stay focused and locked into the game plan,” said senior defensive linemen Jahiem Wilson, whose 79 total tackles leads the team. 

Wilson and his defensive line will unarguably face the most talented running back they’ve seen all season in 4-star rated (247-Sports) Jo’Quavious Marks, who averages a whopping 220 yards per game and 11.5 yards per carry.

Containing the dynamic Mississippi State commit won’t be an easy task, but Wilson will use his 6’1”, 285 frame. 

“Every chance I have to hit him, going in hard and making him feel it. Make him not want to run it anymore,” Wilson said. 

“We will definitely try to control him (Marks) a little bit,” said Cedar Shoals head coach Leroy Ryals. “Try to get more in the box so we can handle him.”

Before the snap: Jaylan Rusher (#3) and Jerdavian Colbert (#35) stand ready to face the Gladiators. Though losing to the Glads the Jaguars have made a comeback, winning three out four games since. “Every day we go to practice and work hard, make sure everything is right. Our chemistry is right, and we just need to put it in place for the game,” said senior wide receiver and corner Jaiden Williams. Photo by Ta’Jayua Phillips and caption by Alex Soto.

On the flip side, the Panthers will have their hands full with a Jaguars offense that’s been clicking recently, led by senior quarterback Jaylan Rusher and sophomore tailback Jerdavian Colbert. 

Recently earning Athens Banner-Herald offensive player of the week recognition with his two-touchdown performance against Walnut Grove, Rusher will start his 12th game at quarterback- his first in the postseason. 

“There’s nothing like experience and it’s helped him tremendously so hopefully he can keep getting better and keep aggressive in the offense,” Ryals said. 

Rusher must showcase his experience and leadership in order to secure a Jag victory. Luckily, he should be able to rely off a potent backfield. 

After being held to a mere 32 yards against Buford, Colbert has shown why he’s the region leader in total rushing yards, averaging 181.6 yards per game in Cedar’s last three matchups. 

“Every day we go to practice and work hard,” said senior wide receiver and corner Jaiden Williams, who caught two touchdowns for 85 yards last game. “Make sure everything is right. Our chemistry is right, and just put it in place for the game.”