The North Jackson football program did not have to search for the team’s road white uniforms, but it would’ve been forgivable if so.
The Chiefs will need them for the first time since August when they travel to Gurley Friday night at 7 p.m. to battle Madison County in a Class 4A Region 7 matchup.
When kickoff arrives, it will have been 42 days since the Chiefs played a road game at Scottsboro on Aug. 20. After an off week, North Jackson (2-3, 2-1) played four straight home games.
“We love playing at home at R.D. Hicks Stadium, but part of high school football is going on the road and handling the change in routine and change in atmosphere,” said North Jackson head coach Joe Hollis, Jr. “This is our shortest road trip (in the region) this year. It’s a big game and our goal is to over there and go 1-0 for the week.”
It’s the 16th meeting between the teams in a series that North Jackson leads 11-4. Madison County has won four of the last five meetings, however, including a 27-18 victory in Stevenson a year ago.
The Chiefs and Tigers are currently tied for third-place in the Class 4A Region 7 standings.
“North Jackson-Madison County has been an important game for a lot of years,” Hollis said. “It’s a big region game that you’re playing for the playoffs, playing for (playoff) seeding.”
Madison County (2-3, 2-1) is under the direction of new head coach Matt Putnam, who was previously the head coach at his alma mater Sylvania and head coach at Hazel Green before that. The Tigers have lost their last two games, including a 35-21 region setback to Randolph on Sept. 17 before falling to Class 5A No. 7-ranked Guntersville 44-21 last Friday.
“Madison County is well-coached and has got a lot of good athletes,” Hollis said. “They’ve had a rough last two weeks, so we expect to get their best and we expect them to get our best.”
North Jackson is coming off a heat-breaking 21-20 loss in the program’s long-awaited first meeting with South Pittsburg (Tennessee). The Chiefs led 20-0 in the second half before three long touchdown passes, the last with less than a minute remaining, led the Pirates to the comeback win.
Hollis doesn’t believe the loss will linger and affect their performance this week.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the kids’ intensity and effort,” Hollis said. “I thought we played well, executed well. We didn’t finish like we wanted to. But this is a resilient group that’s going to bounce back and are really excited to play (this) Friday night.”