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Jackson football team rolls past Vianney into district final
Vianney superstar junior tailback Markel Smith got his yards in the rematch.
Jackson got just about everything else.
The host Indians continued their resurgent season by dismantling Vianney for the second time this year, 54-14 Wednesday night in a Class 5 District 1 semifinal.
"It was one of our better games," junior Colten Proffer said.
Jackson, the district's top seed, will host second-seeded Rockwood Summit at 7 p.m. Monday for the district title and a berth in the state quarterfinals.
"From two wins to the district championship [game]," Proffer said. "That's quite awesome."
Jackson's two-win season from 2011 long has seemed like a distant memory under first-year coach Brent Eckley, whose squad improved to 7-2.
Eckley had few complaints after Wednesday's second dominant victory over Vianney (5-6) this season. The first was 43-14 in St. Louis during Week 2.
"The kids played hard," Eckley said. "I was pleased with how physical we played. Vianney has gotten a lot better since the last time we played them."
Eckley knew Smith would come into the rematch looking to make amends. One of the state's top college prospects has run over every opponent this season except the Indians.
Jackson held Smith to 7 yards on 14 carries in the earlier meeting. Smith still led the St. Louis area with 2,342 yards rushing through 10 games. He had scored 29 touchdowns and was averaging 9.1 yards per carry.
Jackson could not shut Smith down this time. He rushed for 181 yards on 31 carries.
"He's good but we missed a lot of tackles on him," said junior Garrett Miller, Jackson's top tackler from his linebacker position.
Smith set an early tone by accounting for all 60 yards as Vianney took the game's opening kickoff and marched for a touchdown. His 2-yard run put the Griffins ahead 7-0 four minutes into the contest.
"He's very good," Proffer said.
But Smith couldn't do it all by himself. It didn't take long for Jackson's explosive spread offense to begin overwhelming the Griffins and Smith gained only 51 second-half yards.
"He was getting frustrated toward the end," Miller said.
Jackson's offense is rarely frustrated, especially since sophomore Dante Vandeven took over the reigns at quarterback three games ago.
Vandeven completed 17 of 23 passes for 336 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran for a score.
A good portion of Vandeven's passing yards came on short tosses that Jackson's explosive playmakers turned into long gains. But Vandeven also threw several nice deep balls.
Vandeven has passed for more than 300 yards two straight games. He has seven passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns during that stretch.
"It was very impressive," Vandeven said of Jackson's offense against Vianney, not his individual performance. "I rate it a ‘B.' I can do better."
Junior wide receiver Taylor Henson caught two of the touchdowns, covering 52 and 5 yards. He led the Indians with six receptions for 127 yards as he continues to emerge after missing several games with mononucleosis.
"Our line blocked well and Dante threw the ball well," Henson said.
Henson's 5-yard TD reception came on the drive after Vianney took the early lead and tied things at 7-7.
Jackson forced Vianney to punt and the Indians went ahead for good when speedy tailback Proffer took a short pass in the flat, broke a tackle and raced 31 yards for a touchdown that made it 14-7.
The Indians were rarely threatened after that.
"We were confident," Vandeven said. "We didn't let that first touchdown defeat us."
Proffer also had a huge performance. He rushed for 140 yards on 12 carries and scored on a 5-yard run while catching five passes for 99 yards.
"It was all because of the line. I couldn't do any of it without them," Proffer said.
Vianney did have chances to hang around in the first half but committed two turnovers deep in Jackson territory.
Miller recovered a fumble at the 2-yard line late in the first quarter with Jackson ahead 14-7.
Senior Brannon Wright intercepted a pass at the 5-yard line midway through the second quarter with the Indians up 21-7 thanks to Vandeven's 1-yard plunge.
Jackson responded after Wright's interception by driving 95 yards. Wright's 2-yard run with just 1 minute, 59 seconds left before halftime made it 27-7.
The Indians quickly put the game away by scoring two touchdowns in the opening 1:27 of the second half.
Henson's 52-yard touchdown reception -- he took a short pass in the flat and was gone -- came just two plays into the third quarter.
Jackson then recovered a kickoff that bounced off a Vianney player and Vandeven's 5-yard pass to Wright made it 40-7.
"We were just clicking tonight," Proffer said.
Vandeven threw his fifth and final touchdown pass of the night, a 31-yarder to sophomore wide receiver Xominique Davis late in the third quarter that came after junior Trea Forbs made an interception. It was the first varsity TD for Davis.
Proffer's 5-yard TD run midway through the final period rounded out the scoring.
Jackson finished with 543 yards of offense compared to 339 for Vianney.
"We did some good things offensively. There were times we were really clicking," Eckley said. "Dante did a nice job. Our offensive line did a good job. Our backs ran well and our receivers caught the ball well."
Now it's on to face Summit, a team that crushed Jackson 66-0 in last year's regular-season finale.
"I'm extremely excited," Miller said.
Jackson 54, Vianney 14
V -- Markel Smith 2 run (Zach Roseman kick), 8:00
J -- Taylor Henson 5 pass from Dante Vandeven (Adam Brown kick), 5:30
J -- Colten Proffer 31 pass from Vandeven(Brown kick), 3:13
J -- Vandeven 1 run (Brown kick), 8:20
J -- Brannon Wright 2 run (kick failed), 1:59
J -- Henson 52 pass from Vandeven (run failed), 11:34
J -- Wright 5 pass from Vandeven (Brown kick), 10:33
V -- Nick Allgeyer 23 pass from Garrett Staskewicz (Roseman kick), 7:43
J -- Xominique Davis 31 pass from Vandeven (Brown kick), 1:47
J -- Proffer 5 run (Brown kick), 6:26
RUSHING -- Vianney, Smith 31-181, Corey Watson 4-32, Ethan Staskewicz 2-21, Spencer Peterson 3-13, Garrett Staskewicz 2-3, team 2-minus 35. Jackson, Proffer 12-140, Garrett Miller 6-44, Vandeven 14-24, Wright 2-4, team 1-minus 5.
PASSING -- Vianney, Garrett Staskewicz 5-15-2-124. Jackson, Vandeven 17-23-1-336.
RECEIVING -- Vianney, Allgeyer 3-96, Kyle Markway 2-28. Jackson, Henson 6-127, Proffer 5-99, Wright 3-24, Skyler Steele 1-45, Davis 1-31, Ty Selsor 1-10.