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Jackson 'D' gets test from Union at jamboree
FARMINGTON -- If much-anticipated matchups can take place in a high school football preseason jamboree, the chance for Jackson's defense to step on the field against Union's offense was one of them.
And it's one of the few matchups of two teams in Friday's six-team jamboree doubleheader at Farmington that definitely won't see each other again this season.
Jackson, a Class 5 state semifinalist last year with many returning players from a defense that allowed 10.4 points per game, squared off with a Class 4 team that scored 40 or more points in every game last season and featured Kansas-bound quarterback Jordan Webb.
"I heard the kids talking about it, that he threw for more than 3,000 yards last year," Jackson coach Van Hitt said. "It gets the adrenaline flowing and creates more effort.
"But to be honest, with our schedule, we play a lot of Division I kids. We'll see quite a few of them."
Doubtful that many have the ability to exploit a secondary like Webb, who actually threw for 4,279 yards and 55 touchdowns last season. He opened Friday by directing the Wildcats to three touchdowns in 12 plays against Farmington.
Webb, who is almost a Southeast Missourian by extension with grandparents and other relatives scattered throughout Chaffee, Cape Girardeau, Advance and Burfordsville, was looking forward to seeing Jackson.
"I heard they had a real good defense," Webb said. "We were pumped about playing them. We're known for our explosive offense, and it was definitely a good team for us to get a look against.
"We knew both Farmington and Jackson would blitz against us, bring the heat and play man-to-man. Jackson actually played zone, but they blitzed us a lot."
Webb was sacked once against Jackson's first-team defense, but he directed a 70-yard, eight-play scoring drive and finished 3-for-6 for 40 yards. His 18-yard pass set up a 35-yard run by fullback Steve Schaefer.
"We missed two tackles on that one play," Hitt said, "but our No. 1 defense played real well. The kids we have back from last year played well."
The Indians have several on the defensive side, including 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker Blake Peiffer, who met Webb at the end of a 5-yard gain on a fourth-and-2 scramble that kept the drive alive.
"Coach might get mad at me," said Webb, a 6-1, 200-pounder who ran for 633 yards last year, "but I like to hit somebody."
Adam Zweigart, a senior better known as the top running back in Southeast Missouri last year with 1,751 yards, saw limited action Friday night. He ripped off an 11-yard run on Jackson's second play, and he ran 40 yards for a touchdown after a Union penalty extended the possession one more play.
Senior quarterback Marcus Harris threw the ball five times in Jackson's first 12 plays, including one that resulted in a defensive holding penalty.
His 40-yard pass to Ethan Ruch on Jackson's third play set up a 19-yard touchdown run by Mitchell McCulley.
"We wanted to work on our passing game," Hitt said. "I think Marcus is more sure of himself this year. When he had time, he threw the ball well. And our receivers ran some good routes."
Jackson, the lone Class 5 team in its trio, wasn't always pretty, as a pair of late backfield fumbles were scooped up for touchdowns by Farmington, which also scored on a 22-yard pass from Zack Hibbitts to Robbie Craig.
"I think, offensively, we played three or four running backs, three or four fullbacks, three quarterbacks, and we went three or four deep at a lot of positions," Hitt said. "I was pleased with the effort. We made some offensive and defensive mistakes. They're easily corrected. Our effort was good and now we've just got to get totally focused.
"It's football season now."