Gannon Jernigan and North Jackson try to lock up a playoff berth Friday when they play St. John Paul II.


The North Jackson football team is in clinch mode this week.

The Chiefs can officially punch their ticket to the Class 4A playoffs with a victory over St. John Paul II Friday night.

“The goal is to 1-0 this week,” said North Jackson head coach Joe Hollis, Jr. “If we do, we’re in.”

The game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Discovery Middle School in Madison. Tickets for the game can only be purchased on the GoFan app.

It’s the sixth meeting between the teams in a series North Jackson leads 3-2. The Chiefs won last year’s matchup 25-21.

North Jackson (3-4, 3-2) is coming off of a 24-14 loss to Randolph in a game that was for sole possession of second-place in Class 4A Region 7. 

Hollis said the Chiefs have spent the week “getting back to North Jackson football.”

“Fortunately for us, we’ve been on fall break, so we’ve been able to get in here around 8 a.m. and watch some more film, get in more conditioning and more time in the weight room,” he said. “We’re working on the fundamentals, working on ourselves, focusing on who we are.

“It’s Week 8 and we haven’t peaked yet. We’ve played well at times and at time we haven’t. We’re still looking to play a complete game in all three phases.”

It’s been a difficult 2021 season for St. John Paul II (0-7, 0-5), which is coming off of a 35-7 loss to Westminster Christian. The Falcons are averaging just 9.4 points per game while allowing 29.9.

“The effort and hustle has been there,” Hollis said of the Falcons. “They’ve had a couple of tough losses (to DAR 14-10 and New Hope 14-7).”

SJPII, which is under the direction of its third head coach in the past calendar year, is running an option offense that Hollis called a blended version of several option attacks.

The game will be North Jackson’s third against an opponent that runs the option, with a fourth one (New Hope) still ahead on the schedule.

“We didn’t know (St. John Paul II) was going to run it, but thankfully we’d spent a lot of time on it in the offseason because we knew Scottsboro and DAR and New Hope were going to run it,” Hollis said.


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