SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. — Jefferson eventually found its way into the Class AAA postseason a year ago, grabbing the No. 14 seed for the program’s third straight playoff appearance.

Despite a .500 record and 40-15 regular-season loss to first-round opponent Musselman, the Cougars won when it mattered most, flipping the script on the Appleman for a 36-0 win to reach the state quarterfinals.

“The kids fought hard and we were able to sneak in the backdoor of the playoffs at 5-5,” said Jefferson coach Craig Hunter, entering his fifth season at the helm. “I thought we had a favorable matchup (against Musselman). We knew them and they knew us. We were able to scheme and get a win, knowing what they were going to do.”

Receiver and all-state defensive back Jeffrey Gaskins was a big part of that success and returns for his senior season. As a junior, Gaskins totaled 1,044 receiving yards and scored 12 touchdowns, while collecting eight interceptions.

“He’s one of the best receivers, definitely in our area, if not the state,” Hunter said of Gaskins. “He’s so fluid getting in and out of his breaks, and that makes him hard to cover. His route running ability is so good, along with his speed and quickness.

Christopher C. Davis,

Running back Jeremy Beach (left) and receiver Scooter Gaskins (right) are two key returning players back in the mix this season for Jefferson.

“Plus he catches the ball with his hands — he’s not a body catcher. That separates him from other receivers who might just have quickness. He has route running to go along with his speed.”

Gaskins will have a new quarterback throwing his way after Isaac Myers signed with Glenville State.

Sophomore Corbin Pierson has plenty of upside and hopes to replace some of Myers’ production from 2016: Throwing for 2,036 yards, 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while rushing for another 1,308 yards and 15 touchdowns.

“(Pierson) has some running capabilities and he can throw the ball,” Hunter said. “I’m excited to see his progression coming out of his freshman season and now taking the reins over at quarterback. It’s exciting to see his maturation, his growth and what he can do – he’s worked so hard at it.”

A few of the other key returning players for Jefferson include senior running back Jeremy Beach, junior linebacker Nick Longerbeam, senior linebacker Jacob Biller and junior defensive end Jevon Lang.

“We have a lot of kids who can hopefully do some things for us,” Hunter said. “We’re just trying to keep things rolling – we’ve had three straight playoff appearances and we want to keep that going, keep the excitement. Once you slip down that slippery slope, it’s hard to get back up.”

The Cougars will play five of their first six games at home and then end the season with four straight road games.

2017 Football Schedule

1 08/25/17 7:00PM H – MILLBROOK HIGH SCHOOL   
2 09/01/17 7:00PM H – SHERANDO HIGH SCHOOL   
3 09/08/17 7:00PM A – MUSSELMAN   
5 09/22/17 7:00PM H – KEYSER   
6 09/29/17 N/APM H – OPEN DATE   
7 10/06/17 7:00PM H – SPRING MILLS HIGH SCHOOL   
9 10/20/17 7:00PM A – MARTINSBURG   
11 11/03/17 7:00PM A – WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL   
 wins: 0   lost: 0   ties: 0

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