Jackson looks to reduce mistakes

Friday, September 7, 2001

Mentally, the Jackson Indians were a few yards short of a first down Friday night.

They just weren't all there as they made a ton of mental miscues.

Still, Jackson had enough talent and luck to beat Sikeston 34-7.

When Jackson plays host to Sumner at 7:30 p.m. tonight, coach Carl Gross anticipates his Indians will be more focused -- and comfortable.

"We were really disappointed with the mental mistakes," Gross said. "We had a touchdown called back, we lost good field position ... one time we had three straight penalties."

The Indians committed a mind-boggling 16 penalties. That lack of concentration is not typical of Jackson, usually one of the more disciplined teams in the region.

Gross said the team could have been distracted by a new offense which features Mario Whitney as a quarterback about half the time.

"We didn't have that same comfort level when we went to our spread formations," Gross said. "You could tell it was Mario's first game at quarterback. He threw some nice balls, but he threw some he shouldn't have. But we're going to stick with it. We won't do it exclusively, but we'll keep doing it. It's one of those things where the more you do it, the better feel you get for it."

Still, the Indians must carry out assignments better if they expect to beat Sumner.

"We didn't execute on the edge like we wanted to," Gross said. "And I thought our offensive line was tentative. They didn't get off the line like they did in the jamboree. Sikeston is very good at the line of scrimmage but they shouldn't have been that much better than our kids."

While Whitney is used at various positions in the offense, Sumner has a versatile player as well in Carl Ragsdale (5-10, 185). He's listed as a wingback, but he'll play just about anywhere. He was a quarterback last year.

Running back David Lewis (6-0, 195) will get the bulk of the carries.

On defense, middle linebacker Josh Fuller is the team's best player.

Sumner, which lost to a tough East St. Louis team 21-8 last week, boasts a huge defensive line with players of 330, 270 and 250 pounds.

But the team is based on speed.

"What those big linemen do is hide the linebacker so he can run around and make plays," said Gross.

Jackson defeated Sumner 42-6 last year, but the two teams waged an epic battle in 1999 when the Indians won on a late 2-point conversion, 31-30.

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