After watching film of Wednesday night's 31-6 sectional victory over Rockwood Summit, Jackson coach Carl Gross said he got "chill bumps as big as golf balls."
That's because he saw his offensive line open up some fairways for backup tailback Stuart McIntosh.
Gross believes that if the big boys up front repeat that performance tonight in the quarterfinals against Parkway West (9-2), Jackson (11-0) will get another home game and advance further in the Class 5A playoffs.
The game will start at 7 p.m. at Parkway West High School in Ballwin, Mo.
"My hat's off to those kids," Gross said. "They bloodied some noses. I'm telling you, those big puppies are a handful when they play as well as they did in spurts Wednesday night."
The unit of Travis Dambach, Colby Lohman, Pete Ressler, Justin Rollet and Kyle Perry took it as a challenge once all-stater Mario Whitney went down with a concussion late in the first half.
So they pushed around Summit and imposed their will, expanding a 17-0 halftime lead to a 31-6 victory as McIntosh gained 177 yards overall.
"The line of scrimmage was three yards in their backfield," Gross said.
Said Parkway West coach Boyd Manne, "I think they've got a great offensive line. They've got good size and I'm sure they're strong and in the weight room a lot just like our kids."
Gross said Whitney will be back for tonight's game.
A tough team
Parkway West, which is unranked while Jackson is ranked fifth in the state, features a balanced attack and could be the best team Jackson has faced this year.
The Longhorns enter the quarterfinal on a seven-game winning streak.
Parkway West suffered losses to Zumwalt West and Lindbergh early in the season, but has improved lately. Lindbergh defeated the Longhorns 42-28 in Week 4, but Parkway West returned the favor last week, defeating the same Lindbergh team 24-7.
"They're a good football team," Gross said. "They'll mash you for a while then they'll go to spread formations. You have to be able to play smashmouth and finesse against these guys."
Parkway West's top running back is Donell Simpson, who has rushed for 1,186 yards for a 6.31 yards-per-carry average.
Longhorns quarterback Blake Witte has completed 44 percent of his passes for 883 yards, 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
Gross was most impressed with Will Paul, a tight end/fullback/defensive lineman.
"He's a big ol' bull," Gross said.
"We've got an outstanding football team as well," Manne said. "We put the ball in a lot of kids' hands and we'll take what the defense gives us. We'll give it our best shot (tonight) and I think it will be a great football game for both teams."
Manne said all year his team has talked about stopping the run and the big play.
Against Jackson, if you stop one, you'll probably stop the other.
Whitney is averaging 11 yards per carry thanks to countless long runs in which he simply outruns everyone on the field. He has 2,409 yards on 227 carries.
"We have to eliminate big plays and we need to get big plays from our big-play kids," said Manne. "I'm really impressed with Jackson and with the way they're coached and they're demeanor. They come right at you and they have one of the best running backs in the state."
Whitney, who appeared dazed on the Indian sideline in the second half of Wednesday's sectional, showed marked improvement on Thursday. Sunday night, Gross said his star running back was "good to go."
"Mario thinks a lot of the people he plays with," he said. "He knows this football team counts on him and his best friends in the world put on the same jerseys he puts on. He'll play."