Prior to facing Westminster Christian in its region opener last Friday night, North Jackson head football coach Joe Hollis felt like his team had made the most of its week off between its Week 0 and Week 2 games.
The Chiefs’ performance against Westminster Christian backed up Hollis’ belief, as they raced out to a 29-0 lead en route to the 36-22 Class 4A Region 7 victory.
“The kids prepared four two solid weeks and we came out and played one of the best halves of football we have in (my) eight years (on the coaching staff),” said Hollis, who got his first win as North Jackson’s head coach after serving as an assistant since 2014.
“There was a big jump from (game) one to two, which is what you wanted to see. We played well in all three phases. We went with the ebb and flow of the game. We experienced success in the game and when we faced adversity our kids continued to fight. The coaches did a good job of preparing our kids and the kids did a great job of executing in the game. Our goal is to go 1-0 every week and the kids did that last week, so now we’ve want to go 1-0 this week. We want to have the mentality of ‘big team, little me’ and that’s the way our kids are playing.”
It’s a blueprint for success Hollis and the Chiefs hope carry them to another region win this week when they host DAR Friday night. Kickoff is set for at 7 p.m. at R.D. Hicks Stadium in Stevenson.
It’s the 16th meeting in a series North Jackson leads 15-1.
The Chiefs picked a up COVID-19 related forfeit from DAR a year ago. The 2021 game between the Chiefs and Patriots was originally scheduled to be played at DAR, but an AHSAA proposal that was adopted in the spring forced teams who forfeited a road game to travel to play the team they forfeited to last season as long as the team that received the forfeit did not host a non-counting game the week of that forfeit. The teams will split the gate receipts.
That change has given North Jackson (1-1, 1-0) three straight region home games, and Hollis wants to see the Chiefs continue to take advantage of playing important games on their home field.
“It was great to be at home (last week) and players did a great job of feeding off that,” Hollis said.
Meanwhile, DAR (0-2, 0-1) enters the matchup following a pair of losses to Fairview 48-21 and region foe and third-ranked Madison Academy 53-17.
Scottsboro alum Hunter Holland is back on the sideline for a second tenure as Patriots head coach. Holland’s first tenure was from 2007-13, and he was the Patriots head coach when DAR picked up its lone win over North Jackson, a 43-22 victory over the Chiefs in Stevenson in 2013.
Holland took over for Joel Poole, who is now North Jackson’s offensive coordinator. Current North Jackson assistant coach Lance Stephens is also a former DAR assistant.
Hollis said DAR has shown a couple of different offensive systems in their first two games, making the Chiefs’ defensive preparation much more detailed this week.
“They ran (triple-option) against Fairview but ran spread stuff against MA,” Hollis said. “You just have to be ready for anything. We’ll work some on both and make sure our guys are ready.”