Steadily improving ‘D,’ QB key to Panthers’ success

Published 4:28 pm Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Jemison hadn’t defeated Bibb County in quite a while, but putting that fact in the back of their minds might have been the key to the Panthers ending the six-game losing streak last week.

JHS coach Merritt Bowden said the focus during each week of preparation must be internally—what each player can do to improve—and not on the things that are beyond the team’s control.

“We don’t talk about those things,” Bowden said of Bibb’s string of victories in the series between region rivals. “We feel like the best thing to do is focus on us and not on who we’re playing.

“When you play a team that has been really successful, maybe had your number a little bit, you can get caught up in feeling like you have to do something above and beyond, but that’s not the case. It’s a team effort.”

One player who always seems to go above and beyond is senior Randy Satterfield, who broke open a scoreless defensive struggle with a 39-yard punt return that set up the game’s first touchdown, a Jacob Hatch quarterback keeper.

Satterfield then was on the receiving end of a 54-yard touchdown pass from Hatch to make the score 12-0 and signal that the Panthers would control the game.

Bowden and his coaching staff preach the importance of winning the field position battle through special teams play and Satterfield can be counted on for game-changing plays, but Jemison’s success this season—the Panthers have won three straight games by an average score of 42-9 and are tied with Dora for first place in Class 4A, Region 4—can also be attributed to the steady improvement of Hatch and the team’s defense.

“The defense has made a lot of progress,” Bowden said. “We’re tackling better because we’ve done a good job of reducing running lanes, not giving them room to run. The defensive line is playing well, stalemating those guys up front and keeping them off the linebackers.”

Hatch accounted for all three of Jemison’s scores against Bibb, running for another short score to conclude an 80-yard, 6-minute drive to begin the second half. He completed eight passes in 11 attempts for 125 yards during the game.

“Jacob is making a lot of good decisions,” Bowden said. “A lot of times fans don’t see all the good things—making the right reads and getting us in the right play.

“We took steps forward, definitely. We played physical. We’re trying to be the best we can be every week, and I think the kids are really pushing to do that.”