The North Jackson football team is hoping for a Happy Homecoming.
And if it is happy, that means the Chiefs remain alive in the wild playoff race in an unpredictable Class 4A Region 7.
North Jackson (1-5, 1-3) hosts region tri-leader Priceville (4-2, 3-1) Friday night at 7 at R.D. Hicks Stadium in Stevenson.
It’s the eighth meeting in a series North Jackson leads 6-1.
No team has secured or been eliminated from playoff contention in the region race. Priceville, Danville and Fairview currently share the lead in the region standings at 3-1 while St. John Paul II and Randolph are 2-2 and North Jackson and DAR are 1-3.
Priceville is enjoying its best season since 2014 when current Troy quarterback Kaleb Barker led the Bulldogs to a region championship.
Priceville ran the spread back then, but first-year head coach Chris Foster has installed a run-oriented offense that relies on a big offensive line and junior running back Jerry Burton, who has rushed for 1,250 yards and 18 touchdowns through six games.
“We ask our running backs to be physical and run through arm tackles,” Foster told The Decatur Daily. “I think Jerry runs with that mindset. The first guy isn’t going to be the guy that tackles him.”
North Jackson head coach Chandler Tygard said Priceville’s offense rarely attempt passes and several times do not even have receivers lined out wide in the formation.
“It’s all 11 in the box,” Tygard said. “They just want to grind the clock (and) keep it away from you.”
Tygard said the Chiefs need to strike early and make Priceville play from behind.
“If we could get up early that would help,” Tygard said, “because if you get up on them (in that offense) it makes its tough on them.”
Tygard said North Jackson’s offense must be balanced in order to have success.
“We’ve been running the ball well,” Tygard said. “But we’ve not been able to complete any passes down field. We’ve got to catch passes down field to take the pressure off the running game and keep people from just crowding the box.”