The game was a reunion of sorts for Smith and his staff. When Smith left Saks he brought four of his assistants with him. The other four assistants stayed behind with one of the assistants, Jonathan Miller, becoming the head coach.
For most of the Saks players, they had known only one head coach throughout their high school football career, and that was Clint Smith, the man who now stood across from them as a Golden Eagle.
In 2007 Smith and his Saks team won the Region title and Smith took the Wildcats to the playoffs four more times before he left them to become Jacksonville’s head coach.
Both teams were a mirror image of each other. Both ran the same offense, had the same defense. But on this night, Smith didn’t come out on top as his team dropped to a 5-5 record while Saks will be going to the playoffs at 8-2.
The Golden Eagles, playing without leading rusher Dominique Thomas, were held to only two first downs in the first half. Saks took advantage of Eagle miscues and two interceptions to take a 17-0 lead at the half.
Jacksonville lost starting quarterback Jackson Bell in the second quarter and Bell was replaced by junior Lavontae LaCount who tried to rally his team. LaCount ended with 77 yards on seven carries.
Saks held an insurmountable 31-0 lead before LaCount hit Payton Sims on a third and 25 and Sims took the ball to the one-yard line where Savon Parker took the ball in for the score.
Sims finished as the leading receiver with 64 yards on three receptions.
While the Eagles, who started out the season 5-1 before dropping their last four, didn’t have the season they wanted, they make terrific strides over the 2-8 season the year before.
While the seniors won’t be able to see what the future holds for this team, Coach Smith time and again has pointed out that they set the foundation for what is to come.
The Golden Eagles indeed have a bright future ahead. Back next year will be Dominique Thomas who rushed for over 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns. Quarterback Jackson Bell will also be back. Bell passed for over 1,000 yards had 11 touchdowns and is always a threat to run.
Also back will be receiver Sid Thurmond who pulled in 37 catches for over 500 yards and seven touchdowns.
Having seen what Smith and his staff did while at Saks, and the progress made this year at JHS, the future looks promising for the Golden Eagles.