Macklin Guess and North Jackson close out Class 4A Region 7 play against New Hope on Friday.

The North Jackson football team wrapped up a playoff spot last week, but the Chiefs aren’t planning to let off the gas pedal entering its Class 4A Region 7 finale.

“Since the Randolph game, we’ve treated every game like a playoff game,” said North Jackson head coach Joe Hollis, Jr. “It’s big to get in the playoffs, were excited to get in, but the work’s just beginning. We’re working to get better every week for when we get there and last week was a step in that direction. We’ve got to continue doing that this week.”

North Jackson (4-4, 4-2) closes region play when it welcomes New Hope to R.D. Hicks Stadium in Stevenson Friday night at 7 p.m. It’s also “Senior Night” for the Chiefs.

It’s the fourth all-time meeting between the teams in a series North Jackson leads 3-0. The Chiefs edged New Hope 33-28 last season in the teams’ first meeting since 1989.

North Jackson is coming off of a 27-9 win over St. John Paul II, the school’s 275th all-time win following the consolidation for Bridgeport and Stevenson High Schools in 1988. 

The Chiefs jumped out to 21-0 lead and then battled both the Falcons and heavy rains to close out the victory. 

“It was important to get out to a big start early and our guys did,” Hollis said. “We came out of the shute and played well, really just had a couple of mistakes, the trick play they hit us on and the snap over the punter’s head. But we played really well in all three phases.”

North Jackson ran for a season-high 234 yards, led by sophomore Diego Holt, who got his first significant carries of the season. Holt, who also starts on the defensive line, ran for 120 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

“We were looking for a spark, he’s a young player and plays with a high motor,” Hollis said. “He runs hard, had a lot of yards after contact. We were really pleased with his performance.”

New Hope (3-5, 1-5) enters Friday’s match-up looking to snap a three-game losing streak. The Indians opened the season with wins over Crossville and Columbia, but have lost five of six games since starting region play. Their lone region win was a 14-7 victory against St. John Paul II on Sept. 17.

Hollis said New Hope is a “true option team” that wants to control the clock.

“New Hope plays physical, they’re very methodical (on offense) and try to run every second off the clock,” Hollis said. “It’s going to be a physical, old-school kind of game.”

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