The Pit was rocking on Friday night.
Oh was it ever… as the Jackson Indians rattled off their fourth straight District Championship and kept their State Title defense alive with a convincing 52-14 win over Seckman. The Varsity Football squad popped and sizzled on both offense and defense in this one behind, arguably, quarterback Cameron Marchi‘s best game ever.
When asked what led to his success in this one, Marchi simply replied, “One word: preparation.”
That preparation shined though as game started off with a bang when running back Tony Williams pounded one in on the ground from seven yards out for the first of four unanswered first-quarter scores. Then Marchi got to work. On the Indians’ next possession the Senior signal-caller found his right hand in Kannen Turley for an 18-yard strike to go up 14-0.
Then, at 2:47 of the first quarter, with Turley double-covered, Marchi made a fantastic read and found none other than wide receiver/kicker Logan Bruns. Bruns made a nifty run to get into space and then a sparkling grab as he looked up to find wide open pasture. The record-setting kicker then booked it 18 yards into the end zone, untouched, for his first career touchdown reception. It was yet another highlight reel moment in a season with enough highlights to break the reel, and put the Indians up 21-0.
When asked what it felt like to get his first TD, an elated Bruns chirped, “Man it felt awesome. I remember lining up and watching (Head Coach Brent) Eckley call the play, which we ran on the first play of the game and I was wide open. So this time in my head I’m thinking, ‘Is this my time? Am I actually going to get a touchdown?’ Well sure enough I caught it and it took a minute to process that I had actually scored. I was pretty excited to experience that because I’ve always accepted my role at outside receiver and we typically don’t get the deep balls thrown to us. Also, my whole family came down to watch the game and for them to watch me catch it in person made it really special.”
The final touchdown of the first 12 minutes was, surprise surprise, Marchi again, this time connecting with Sophomore receive Blayne Harris for a 19-yard catch and go. That made the score, unfortunately for Seckman, a seemingly unreachable 28-0 after just one quarter of football.
On Jackson’s first possession in the second, Marchi again found Turley for a score, but this time it was a bomb in the form of a 62-yard TD and a 35-0 lead. That segued into Seckman’s moment to shine, as stud QB Cole Rubel took the snap and beat feet all of 86 yards into the end zone. The Indian defense had done a nice job of containing him, but you can only keep a talent of that caliber at bay for so long. His bold run made the score 35-7.
Marchi wasn’t going to rest on his laurels though, as the stud QB fired right back with a couple of impressive drives and back-to-back touchdown passes to Isaiah Davis. They went for 27 and 26 yards, respectively, and the Indians suddenly found themselves with an untouchable 49-7 lead going into the half.
With the game all but sewn up, Jackson took their foot off the gas and allowed some of the starters to rest up for next week’s showdown. The only scoring in the second half was a 22-yard field goal by Bruns in the third and a 71-yard run by Seckman’s Ty Kitchen in the fourth that pulled the plug on the scoreboard. When it was all said and done the Indians had themselves a 52-14 victory and a chance to move one step closer to back-to-back State Championships.
Marchi’s stat sheet was dripping with accolades in this one, as his big right arm accounted for six passing touchdowns on a 14-of-19 effort through the air for 264 yards. He found Turley and Davis for two scores apiece, with Turley leading the team with 102 yards on just three catches. Davis had a team-high six grabs and racked up 95 yards.
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The ground game, led by Williams with 45 yards and a score, was widely spread out throughout the roster and wasn’t asked to do a whole lot with Marchi taking over the scoreboard. As for defense and special teams it was Bruns and Ryley Styer who stole the show. Bruns nailed all seven of his extra point attempts, kicked a field goal and caught two passes for 23 yards and his first career touchdown. All Styer did was rack up five tackles (one assist and two for a loss), recover a fumble, break up a pass and block a punt. He was all over the field in this one and gave Seckman nightmares they will be seeing every time they close their eyes for the foreseeable future.
When asked about the keys to his and team’s success, Styer responded with, “Honestly, it was just to play as team and play like we’re coached. We owe a lot of our defensive success to our scout team giving us a great look and preparing us for Friday night. Our defense has really come together over this season to play as a whole, and that has helped us put away games much faster.”
Tony Terry stood out defensively as well, making six tackles (two assists and one for a loss) and had this to say about his team’s effort in shutting down Ruble, “We watched a lot of film. They ran the ball on the strong side nearly every time and we picked up on that. My job was to blitz off the edge to contain the ball and turn him inside to traffic. The rest of the box really did a great job of blowing it up in the middle. Then they started running to the weak side, which caught us off guard at first, but we had practiced it and eventually shut that down too.” It seems to have worked.
This was the 11th win of the season for the Indians and 25th in a row overall, and this ferociously talented squad looks to be seemingly unbeatable. Jackson has cruised through the regular season and the District Playoffs with relative ease, but now State is on the line. They will host Rockwood Summit in the Pit on Friday night in the Class 5 State Quarterfinals. Get pumped.
Photo by Chris Marchi