JEFFERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — Looking back, the 2018 season had its ups and downs for the Jefferson County Patriots.  The year started off with promise, as the Patriots won three of their first four games.  The season didn’t end quite so well, with the Patriots dropping five of their last six, including a four game losing streak to end the season.  There is perhaps a silver lining to the way last season ended, however.  In the Patriots first two losses of the 2018 season, they were outscored by a total of 58 points.  However, in the final four losses Jefferson County was only outscored by a combined total of 15 points.

In 2019 head coach Spencer Riley and the rest of his team are looking to turn those narrow losses into wins.  Riley, a former Vol and 1998 national champion, mentioned that schematically the Patriots would play similarly to how they did a season ago.  What Riley does see changing, is the look of his players.

“Where we are improved is in the weight room area.”  “Our kids don’t look like just regular students anymore, they look like football players,” said Riley.

The Patriots have put a particular emphasis on training and getting themselves more football ready over the past six months or so.  Riley mentioned that the Patriots have improved when it comes to the football part of things, but reiterated that there is only so much that skill can do if players aren’t physically where they need to be.

“We’re definitely working on our speed and strength a lot,” said offensive lineman Dominic Schroeder.

Coach Riley talked with WBIR about his defense, mentioning that the Patriots have all of their linebackers back.  There’s more good news for the defense, as Riley was sure to point out that as far as the Patriots defensive line goes, every one of his guys started at some point last year.

As far as the secondary and running back positions are concerned, Riley noted that those will be positions of lesser experience for Jefferson County.  That didn't seem to bother one leader in particular.  Senior quarterback Tanner Atkins had a quiet confidence about him when he spoke with WBIR. 

“We have the players, I think we have the heart.”  “Look out for us on Friday nights,” Atkins said.

Jefferson County will open its season up against Sevier County on Friday, August 23.