At the end of a 2-8 season in 2017, North Jackson head coach Mark Rose encouraged the players coming back that stick together.
“I told them they’d be rewarded if they would,” Rose said. “They fought through last year and came into this year with a purpose.”
The Chiefs have been rewarded so far with a Class 4A Region 7 championship and a guaranteed first-round playoff game Nov. 9 against Curry.
The Chiefs, with a win at Arab, would be rewarded with an undefeated regular-season.
“There’s been seven teams been 10-0 at North Jackson,” Rose said. “We’re trying to make it eight.”
North Jackson visits Arab Friday at 7 p.m. at the new Arab City Schools Sports Complex. It’s the first ever meeting between the schools.
For No. 6-ranked North Jackson (9-0), a win would give the Chiefs their first undefeated regular season since the 2011 campaign. It would also be the fifth perfect regular season during Rose’s two North Jackson coaching tenures (2000-07 and 2014-present).
The 2018 Chiefs have been making history all season.
North Jackson, has scored 576 points and is averaging 64 points per game, is on pace to break the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s single-season state scoring average record and regular-season points scored record. The Chiefs must avoid a shutout to break Demopolis’ regular-season points scored record and will finish the regular season ahead of the 1926 Tuscaloosa High School team’s state scoring per game average record of 59 points per game if they score at least 15 points against Arab. The all games (regular-season and postseason games) single-season points scored record is 762, set by Linden in 2016.
North Jackson running back Lee Witherspoon, who has already set the single-season school rushing record (2,166 yards), needs five touchdowns to break the AHSAA state record currently held by Beauregard’s La'Damian Webb (53), set in 2016. Witherspoon needs seven touchdowns to break Webb’s single-season state rushing touchdown record (49).
Rose said the team is proud of the accomplishments and records, but said the Chiefs have one goal.
“They want to win,” Rose said. “This group is unselfish. They keep their mind on winning. We’ve talked about that when you keep winning, records fall, a lot of folks get recognition with all-state and all-region and stuff. But these guys are focused on winning. We’ll celebrate all that after the season. I don’t think our leadership would let there be a let down.”
Rose warned the Chiefs not to let their guard down against Arab (1-8), which has impressed him with its resiliency this season.
“They’ve been in a lot of games. They led Madison Academy 14-3 last week, led Scottsboro at the half and got a win against Madison County,” Rose said. “I’ve known (Arab head coach) Oscar (Glasscock) for years. He’s been the defensive coordinator at a lot of good schools, got a lot of respect for him. He’s doing a real good job there. We’re expecting a war with them. They’ve fought hard all year. They’re a lot like we were last year, in every game fighting hard.”
Coming off its region-title clinching win over Randolph, Rose believes his players locked in on what lies ahead.
“We had as good a Monday practice as we’ve had all year,” Rose said. “We’re getting better every week. This time of year, that’s what you want.”