Going into the season, Jackson coach Carl Gross said his Indians had to rely on physical play for success.
His Indians proceeded to be outplayed on the line of scrimmage in their opener against Sikeston.
"Early in the game, when we were fresh, we outplayed them totally," Gross said. "But we got to the end of the second quarter and the second half, and they outplayed us the rest of the night We just ran out of gas. It looked like we hadn't conditioned or anything. That was the first time we had seen that. We were just fatigued."
He attributed a bundle of mental errors, which included three illegal procedure penalties and two offside penalties, to the fatigue.
The results were a 21-14 loss to Sikeston, the Indians' first-opening game loss in four seasons. Gross wasted little time in making changes.
The Indians, who went into the season with five players going both ways, are departing from the strategy tonight against Rockwood Summit, a team they defeated 31-6 in the first round of last year's playoffs.
The Indians are turning to youth to find the depth, starting the likes of sophomores like Brad Crader at tight end, Andy Glass at offensive tackle, Jason Meystedt at running back and Blake Ulrich at linebacker. Juniors Aaron Fortner (LB) and Jordan Sides (DL) will get defensive starts along with seniors Charlie Doerge (DL) and Cody Farrow (S).
"We've just changed it around a little bit to see if we can get something going," Gross said. "We've got some sophomores that have kept working and kept working, and we thought some might work their way into some playing time later in the year, but we went out there on Monday and they stood up."
Gross said the players will determine if the changes take root.
"If they respond they'll keep that position," he said. "This is not a one-week deal. They're there right now because we felt they earned it this week in practice. What we figure, these young kids are better fresh than they are tired, so we felt we had to pull the switch on it."
Meystedt was pressed into action against Sikeston when starting tailback Stuart McIntosh suffered a separated shoulder. Meystedt, a safety on the freshman team last year, demonstrated poise and plenty of moves in his running debut, rushing for 136 yards on 17 carries.
While Jackson saw victory escape in the final minutes, Rockwood Summit endured a thorough 42-0 loss to Parkway South, allowing 325 yards rushing and nearly 10.5 yards a carry. The Falcons trailed 42-0 at halftime. Summit, like Jackson, lost most of its key contributors to last year's playoff team.
Sophomore quarterback David Mazar passed for 105 yards in his debut, but Summit struggled on the ground with 63 yards on 26 carries.
"Rockwood Summit and Jackson are in the same canoe," Gross said. "Now we have to go out and play Friday night and find out which end of the boat has a hole in it and see which one has got it plugged."
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