Class 5A blog: Jackson County’s McWhorter one win away from No. 300

Charlton County's (Folkston, GA) head coach Rich McWhorter watches his team play against Marion County (Buena Vista) during their GHSA Class A-Public football Championship game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Saturday, December 14, 2013.
Caption
Charlton County's (Folkston, GA) head coach Rich McWhorter watches his team play against Marion County (Buena Vista) during their GHSA Class A-Public football Championship game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Saturday, December 14, 2013.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

This could be a historical season in many respects at Jackson County.

Not only is coach Rich McWhorter on the cusp of joining an exclusive club, the Panthers are tracking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

McWhorter has 299 career wins after Jackson County’s 63-0 win over Johnson on Oct. 8.

He went 288-79-2 in 29 seasons at Charlton County, where he won 15 region titles and four state championships. He came to Jackson County in 2019 and has gone 11-16. The Panthers are 4-3 this season.

According to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association, McWhorter will become the 14th coach in the state to reach the 300-win mark. His 300th victory will tie him with Rodney Walker, who reached the milestone in 2011, and leave him two wins behind Valdosta legend Nick Hyder. Lincoln County’s Larry Campbell is the state’s winningest coach at 477-85-3.

McWhorter modestly defers the credit to others.

“For me it doesn’t mean that much,” he said. “There have been so many other people that made it happen. We had a lot of great players and a whole bunch of good coaches. If you do it long enough, you’ll get there.”

If Jackson were to win out – in which case McWhorter would move up to No. 12 on the all-time wins list – the Panthers would definitely make the playoffs.

But Region 8 has been consistently inconsistent all year. The only thing for certain is that Clarke Central has virtually sewed up its third straight region title. Otherwise there are six teams tied for the second playoff spot with 2-2 region records.

Jackson County (4-3) has beaten Johnson and Loganville, but lost to Clarke Central by four points on a late score and to Walnut Grove on a night where two touchdowns were called back. It still has games with Eastside, Greenbrier and Apalachee.

“We’re in a situation where we’re just trying to win a football game,” McWhorter said. “We’ve got to get focused right now and see if we can win some games. I haven’t worried about all the different scenarios. We’re just trying to win games.”

Jackson County had only nine seniors when McWhorter arrived. Now there are 21 and most of them start.

“It’s a good group,” he said. “I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do.”

The offense is led by running back Trey Ransom, who has rushed for 808 yards and six touchdowns. Isaiah Maxey and Connor Bejin share time at quarterback. They’re helped by an experienced offensive line led by tackles Evan Rosser and Jonathan Lindquist and center Holden Gilstrap. The defense is led by linebacker Hyson Porter and lineman Zack Potter.

Eastside (4-3) has beaten Johnson and Loganville, but lost to Apalachee and Clarke Central. The Eagles still have games remaining against Jackson County, Walnut Grove and Greenbrier.

Greenbrier (3-4) has beaten Apalachee and Walnut Grove, but lost to Loganville and Clarke Central. The Wolfpack has games remaining against Johnson, Jackson County and Eastside.

Loganville (3-4) has beaten Greenbrier and Johnson, but lost to Jackson County and Eastside. It still has games remaining against Clarke Central, Apalachee and Walnut Grove.

Walnut Grove (3-4) has beaten Jackson County and Johnson, but lost to Greenbrier and Clarke Central. The Warriors have games remaining against Apalachee, Eastside and Loganville.

Apalachee (2-5) has beaten Eastside and Johnson, but lost games to Clarke Central and Greenbrier. The Wildcats still have games remaining against Walnut Grove, Loganville and Jackson County.

It will likely take at least two more weeks for the situation to become clearer. By that time there could be some do-or-die scenarios for the final week of the season.

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