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High School Football: Jackson overcomes early adversity to defeat Parkway North 57-13

The final score of 57-13 says it was an easy win for the
Jackson football team over Parkway North in St. Louis Friday night, but it was
far from that in the first half.

This was not because it was a close affair, but mainly due
to the fact the Indians had a total of four starters leave the game due to
injury all in the first half.

These four players were junior running back Daniel
Dickerson, junior running back/cornerback Dimechi Herring, senior wide receiver
Luke Starzinger and senior athlete Seth Waters. The only player to return in
the game was Starzinger for a few plays in the second quarter, but he stayed on
the sideline in the second half.

Jackson was still able to capture a marginal win without
these players, so there was no reason to bring any of them back into the game
to risk further injury. It also gave a few players a chance to have breakout

One Indian who took advantage of more targets was senior
wide receiver Dalton Skrob, who hauled in six passes for 154 yards and four
touchdowns. Skrob did not record a catch in Week 1 against Webster Groves and
only had seven catches for 60 yards and one touchdown his junior year.

“I’d just say that I was in the right place at the right
time,” Skrob said. “[Welker] is a great quarterback and knows where to put the
ball. [After the injuries] we just tried to stay positive. Guys knew they had
to step up and do their job. They did the best they could.”

Down two running backs and two wide receivers, Skrob was
junior quarterback Cael Welker’s light in the darkness, who finished 16-for-22
(72%) with 257 passing yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.

Welker also made up for Jackson’s lack of a running game
with 81 yards and a touchdown off nine carries. He scored four of his five
touchdowns on the night in the first two quarters.

“When you start getting guys going down, [you get] nervous,”
Jackson head coach Brent Eckley said. “[Welker] is strong enough and tough
enough that we could have him carry it 25 times a game, but after losing a
couple guys we’re just trying to do everything we can to get to the end of the

“He reads well and did a nice job pitching it on the option.
He did a nice job carrying it on stretch, and I’m not a bit surprised. He
stayed composed and did a good job encouraging his teammates.”

Welker was also able to connect with Starzinger for
Jackson’s first score of the game on a screen route from 10 yards out.
Starzinger was able to barrel through defenders at the goal line for his third
touchdown of the year.

Once Starzinger left the game, Skrob became the go-to target
for Welker since he was able to burst into open field against single coverage.

Coach Eckley attributes his team’s offensive line led by
junior left tackle Connor Tollison for Jackson having 544 yards of total
offense as Welker was not sacked once.

Skrob’s first touchdown catch of the season came with under
five minutes left in the first quarter when Welker pump faked and then hit
Skrob for a 9-yard score.

Their second touchdown connection of the night came with
around one minute left in the same quarter as Welker saw Skrob wide-open in
Parkway North territory for a 52-yard touchdown.

Jackson took a 19-0 lead following Welker’s third touchdown
strike, and the Indians defense was able to add another score with only eight
seconds left until the second quarter.

This was when junior outside linebacker Garner Horman read
Parkway North senior quarterback Levi Hilton and picked him off for a 20-yard

“You go two weeks in a row where our defense scores, and
that doesn’t happen very often,” Eckley said. “It’s one thing our defense went
from wanting to get shutouts to now their next level is getting shutouts and scoring.
Great effort play [by Horman] — nice job being in the right spot.”

Also coming up big defensively in this game was junior
inside linebacker Bryce Norman, who finished with a team-high 11 tackles and
five tackles for a loss. Fellow inside linebacker senior Riley Pike paced
Norman with two tackles for a loss along with seven tackles.

Junior outside linebacker Randol McDowell finished behind
Norman in total tackles with nine and one for a loss, while senior defensive
end Cole Amelunke also finished with a tackle for a loss and a total of seven

With one of their starting cornerbacks in Herring out,
senior cornerback Markiese Jones finished with a team-high two pass deflections
and nearly had an interception early on.

“[Jones] was playing against the guy that was [Parkway
North’s] target, so he had several chances,” Coach Eckley said. “What I was
pleased with was he did a great job competing. When the guy was running a
vertical and then an out, he stayed right with him.

“He contested those balls and there was no chance to catch
it with where [Jones] was at. Even more than that, he was an outstanding leader
for us tonight. He was encouraging all three phases — guys would have a bad
play, and he would help lift them back up.”

Jackson’s defense came two touchdowns shy of recording its
second shutout of the year as Parkway North junior running back Monte Weaver
broke off a 34-yard run for the score on a reverse option. This was after the
Indians had a few penalties and allowed Hilton to have some first-down runs.

The final touchdown the Vikings scored was with 4:32 left in
the game as Hilton’s pass that was tipped by Jackson fell into the hands of
senior wide receiver Johnathan Edwards for a 83-yard score.

Another Indian that stepped up due to injury was sophomore
running back Joshua Wehrenberg, who finished with a game-high 88 yards and a
touchdown on 15 attempts. Wehrenberg also found paydirt in Jackson’s first game
off 14 carries and rushed 79 yards.

The Indians were up 41-0 in the third quarter against Webster
Groves when Wehrenberg saw his first varsity snap. Things were different when
he came in the backfield against Parkway North in the second quarter when his
team was up 25-0.

“[Wehrenberg] started out nervous, which doesn’t surprise me
at all,” Welker said. “I was telling him where to go, and then we started
driving down the field two drives after he’s been in, and I didn’t have to tell
him much. He really stepped up, and he ran really well.”

Heading into this Friday’s crosstown rivalry against Cape Central
(2-0) at The Pit, Jackson will most likely have Starzinger back at receiver. As
for Dickerson, Herring and Waters, Coach Eckley said he is not counting on
having any of them suit up.

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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