Jackson uses proven formula for quick 3-0 start

Friday, September 24, 2004

The Indians look for their fourth victory tonight against Sikeston.

By Jeremy Joffray ~ Southeast Missourian

Jackson and Sikeston have played a pair of close football games the past two seasons, with each team winning a game by seven points or less.

This year, the two teams are heading in opposite directions. Jackson has opened up with three straight wins, while the Bulldogs have stumbled out of the gates with three lopsided losses.

Rivalry games often can bring the difference between teams closer together, though, and Jackson coach Carl Gross said he's sure the Bulldogs will be ready to play.

"I don't think many people thought Troy State would beat Missouri. That's why football games aren't played on paper," he said.

The Indians' success this season can be linked to a return to traditional Jackson football. Through three games, Jackson is averaging more than 200 yards rushing a game. Top backs Jason Meystedt and Austin Bock have combined for about 150 yards a game, with both backs averaging about seven yards a carry. At fullback, Eric Poythress is coming off a 94-yard rushing game last Friday.

"We've played pretty well on the line of scrimmage," Gross said. "Our backs have rushed hard."

On the flip side, Jackson's defense is bringing opposing running games to a standstill. Jackson has held its last two opponents to under 50 yards rushing, and has allowed less than 64 yards rushing a game so far.

Gross said a strong defense and the ability to run the ball have always been standards for successful Jackson squads.

"Right now we've been able to do that the first three weeks," he said.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have had little success under new coach Jerry Dement. Sikeston has been battered by three SEMO Central division opponents, including a 60-6 opening loss to Caruthersville, the top-ranked team in Class 2.

Starting tonight, Jackson's remaining schedule includes its three fellow SEMO North Division opponents, Jefferson City and district play. While the Indians' conference opponents have combined for an 0-12 record, Jackson's remaining schedule appears to have some tall tasks remaining.

Gross said the team is certainly aware the schedule is going to get tougher. He just wants to make sure his team focuses on the game at hand before looking to future opponents such as Jefferson City next week.

"I know it's hard not to look ahead, but hopefully we'll take care of business tonight," he said.

Notes:

Like many of their classmates and fellow athletes, Jackson football players and coaches have had to deal with the loss of senior basketball player Jason Schafer, who died from a one-car accident late Sunday night. In honor of Schafer, Jackson football players will where Schafer's initials on their helmets the rest of the season.

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