Upsetting #2 seed Carver-Atlanta (7-4) last Friday 36-12 in dominant fashion, the Eastsiders will travel to Gray, Georgia, right outside of Macon to take on the Jones County Greyhounds (10-1).
Tying the best current record in opponents the Jags have faced all season (Buford and Oconee sit at 10-1 as well), the first-seeded Greyhounds’ balanced team may be the biggest challenge the Jaguars have seen thus far – with the most on the line.
“They just have good players all over,” Cedar head coach Leroy Ryals said.
Lead by seniors Hunter Costlow, a pocket passer, and wide-out Jontavis Robertson, Jones County’s offense averages 32.7 points per game.
Sophomore back-up quarterback and starting cornerback Renardo Faust will have the high-pressure task of containing three-star rated (247-Sports) Robertson, who has stockpiled 1,147 yards along with 10 touchdowns.
“I see that he doesn’t really sell his routes. It’s really easy to read what he’s going to run,” Faust said after studying film throughout the week.
Ryals is not intimidated by the Greyhounds’ reputation, keeping the team focused on continuing to build their own momentum.
“We feel we do what we’re supposed to do, execute like we’re supposed to, and play with some effort, we can match up with anybody,” Ryals said.
Ryals isn’t wrong. When the Jaguars are playing their best football, they’re the team to beat.
Their overtime rally to beat 6-A team Winder-Barrow on the road, a win over a Loganville team that manhandled Clarke Central 38-21 and narrowly lost to 11-0 Riverwood (14-17) in the playoffs showed that ability. Last week the Jags contained four-star running-back (Rivals) Jo’Quavious Marks’ Carver team, taking advantage of a bullish defensive game.
“To make sure that I don’t have a bad game, keeping my eyes forward and just play better the next game,” said Cedar’s leading rusher sophomore Jerdavian “Ja” Colbert, who had two touchdowns last game. Colbert’s agile running style places him second in the region with 1,274 yards, averaging just under six yards per carry.
“My goal is to get 100-plus yards this game, and get two touchdowns,” Colbert said.
Dual-threat quarterback Jaylan Rusher, who has his share of up-and-down games this season, put up 220 total yards last week, splitting it between the ground and the air.
Colbert and Rusher’s performances against Carver warn the Greyhounds of a grueling job ahead.
“I feel like they’re (the Jaguars offense) just coming together now. At the beginning of the season it was kind of rusty because there were a lot of wrinkles in the offense,” Faust said. “Now we’ve kind of smoothed it out so the offense is looking way better.”
This improved Cedar team has set a wave of optimism for all the players.
“We’re putting more and more effort at the end of the season, as before we weren’t putting in as much because we didn’t think we would make it this far,” said Faust. “I think we have a chance to make it to the state championship and everybody on the team does.”