In the end, that’s really what did the Jags in during their 2-7-1 season. Injuries to senior Jevaris Jones and junior Jake Jeffcoat at the linebacker position really put the team in a bind defensively and when senior quarterback Powell Krepps left the team in mid-season, a void was created on offense as well. The Jags also had a stunning number of turnovers in 2012, which led to losses as well.
“The thing that hurt us was losing our key guys to injury early in the season and that’s the one thing that we couldn’t afford to have happen to us,” said Jags head coach Nick Davis. “But I have to give my guys credit — they never did quit on me. They fought hard and played hard all year. Other coaches would tell me how hard my guys played after our games.”
Things looked promising for the Jags at the start of the 2012 season. The Jags were cruising in their season-opener at home against Class AA Lamar County, leading 3-0 in the fourth quarter. Although they stymied Lamar (which is currently ranked fourth in Class AA) all game long, Lamar had a good final drive of the game and the Trojans kicked the game-tying field goal to put both teams at 0-0-1 to start the year.
The Jags then forced 7 turnovers and scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams in a 20-13 win over the Rutland Hurricanes the next week to not only give Spalding a 1-0-1 record, but it also nabbed the Jags a vote in the Associated Press Georgia prep football poll in Class AAAA.
Unfortunately for the Jags, things took a turn for the worse after that. The Jags lost 7 straight contests to fall out of playoff contention in Region 4-AAAA, Division B. Turnovers were a big reason for the losses (the Jags had 4 in a 24-21 loss to Dutchtown) and once Jones and Jeffcoat were lost in the Upson-Lee (Oct. 5) and Riverdale (Oct. 12) games respectively, it was too much for the Jags to overcome.
In a testament to the Jags’ hard play and effort, they were only blown out in two of those seven losses: Oct. 19 at Jonesboro (32-7) and Nov. 9 vs. Griffin (42-0). In the other five losses of the streak, Spalding was in the games and had chances to keep them close (and possibly win them) but the players didn’t execute like they were supposed to during times in the games. The Jags rebounded after their losing streak, taking out their frustrations on the hapless Forest Park Panthers in the season-finale, 42-22.
“Next year, we’ve got to get better at every phase of the game. We’ll lose some impact seniors for sure, but we’ve got Jeffcoat and a few others coming back and we’ve found another good kicker in Trey Gregory,” Davis said. “We have this offseason to see who will play in what position. If they execute well in the spring and summer, those will be the guys we will roll with next season.”