The story remains the same for Coach Jerry Jackson at C.A. Johnson. Participation at one of the state’s smallest Class A school is a problem each year.
The Hornets played in the Richland County Sportsarama last weekend with less than 20 players. Some were banged up from preseason practice, and Jackson is waiting to see if a few others might come out for football.
“We’ve got some more guys that haven’t come out yet but, hopefully, we’ll get them out when school starts,” Jackson said. “School starts late for us this year so that’s not going to help us in our first game. but I like the kids we do have out already. I’m real pleased with this team so far.”
The other problem Jackson faces if the additional kids show up is alloting playing time fairly. Does he remain loyal to the players that have prepared all summer in the heat of August practices even if the new players happen to be more talented?
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“It's a fine line,” Jackson said. “If you want to talk about a morale killer that is it. We will slowly work those new guys back in and go from there.”
The Hornets managed to put 26 points on the board in a half of play against Columbia in the scrimmage. The bad news is they allowed 30.
Junior Michael Knox will be at the controls of the C.A. Johnson offense. He has huge play-making ability, but Jackson is still working on his decision-making. Knox will have experience in the backfield in Anthony Eaddy and Tarik Pryor.
The biggest concern for Jackson as they prepare for the season-opener against Class 3A Brookland-Cayce is the lack of depth along the lines. The Hornets go five deep in their rotation. They play a 4-3 on defense so that allows one lineman a break on defense, but they must carry the load on offense.
Jackson hopes to spread the field so defenses aren’t allowed to take advantage of that lack of depth.
Jackson said they will run the zone read with a little wrinkle to try and take some pressure off the offensive line.
“We looked at what USC was doing with that zone read but we’ve added a third option which is the bubble,” he said. “The slot receiver on the opposite side will be in motion to create an option pitch. That way teams can jam the middle on us. With the zone, we don't have to block everybody.”
Defensively, Pryor is the leader from his Mike linebacker position. The senior had over 110 tackles a year ago when C.A. Johnson finished 3-7. Jackson expects Eaddy, Knox and Isaiah Crearer to be big contributors on defense.
“A couple of years a go we had a really good team but suffered injuries late in the year that hurt us,” Jackson said. “If we get certain guys injured that will really be a blow to our success.”