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Incentive. A county rivalry. Winning the final game of your senior year. One side attempting to reach the state football playoffs for the first time in the school’s six-year history. The other side trying to erase the acrid memories of three consecutive 1-9 record seasons.
Washington comes in with four straight wins and a 6-3 overall record that has it firmly inside the state’s top 16 teams that will qualify for next week’s playoff beginning.
Jefferson comes in with a 5-4 record and has to beat the Patriots on their own artificial turf field in order to have any chance to qualify for the playoffs. The Cougars snapped a damaging two-game losing skid when they defeated Hedgesville last week.
In going on its four-game winning streak, Washington has shown the area a much better defense than it had when muddling along with only a 2-3 record.
The Patriots have allowed only 27 points to those last four opponents. Skyline was beaten in shutout fashion and both Frankfort and Musselman were limited to just one touchdown each.
For the first eight games of the season the Patriots were a run-heavy team with senior halfback Colin Gustines blazing the way. In taming Hampshire last week, quarterback Matt Harris and wide receiver Kendell Smith teamed for three scores and Harris threw for nearly 250 yards. Smith had 176 of those reception yards.
Since it opened the 2013 season with three straight wins, Jefferson has gone through the meat of its schedule with a 2-4 record.
Junior quarterback Andrew King and a group of receivers led by Christian Johnson, Tanner Cantrell, Martinez Grant and Isaac Myers have held most of the offensive keys. Finding yardage along the ground has been difficult for the Cougars.
In its last six games, the Cougars are allowing 39.8 points a game. Stalwarts like Will Ransom, Cornell Holt and Delonte Berry will be asked to keep Gustines at least partially under control and keep Smith from having too much freedom in the Jefferson secondary.
Incentive. Playoff conjecture. A natural rivalry.
Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Washington High.